With almost $200 billion in federal bank bailout funds out the door and another $47 billion approved as of Dec. 22, the official U.S. Treasury Department position remains “trust us.”
The Troubled Asset Relief Program, that $700 billion bill that Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed in October, was intended to encourage banks to start extending credit again. But no one has tracked what the banks are doing with the money.
“Each financial institution’s circumstances are different, making comparisons challenging at best, and it is difficult to track where individual dollars flow through an organization,” said Treasury official Neel Kashkari earlier this month, according to Propublica.org, an investigative news site that is tracking bailout funds.
But that ‘s more than Curt Hecker, CEO of Intermountain Community Bancorp, pictured above, is saying.
Hecker, whose Sandpoint-based bank is the only Idaho bank to receive bailout funds to date—$27 million—did not return repeated phone calls to citydesk over the course of a week.
Intermountain, a holding company for Panhandle State Bank, the largest locally owned state bank in Idaho, applied for the TARP money and was approved Nov. 7.
“Our concern in this is what are we getting for the money? There’s no requirement for the banks to lend the money,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, which is researching each of the banks that has taken bailout money.
In 2005, Stephen Hartgen left the publisher’s chair at the Twin Falls Times-News. He got out just in time.
Just yesterday we picked up the citydesk phone and a voice on the other side said, "This is Deep Throat." We instantly knew who it was, and the individual on the other side of the phone did provide a modicum of banal historical information, on deep background, which may or may not soon appear on the pages of the Boise Weekly or circulate in bits on this blog.
William Mark Felt Sr. was born Aug. 17, 1913, in Twin Falls, Idaho, the son of a general contractor and a housewife. He worked his way through the University of Idaho, waiting tables and stoking furnaces, and graduated in 1935.May more Idahoans in positions of power learn from his example, trust a reporter and do the right thing. Amen. (By the way, you can reach citydesk at 344.2055, anytime. There are plenty of parking garages in the vicinity of our BoDo office...)
He moved to Washington to work for two Idaho Democrats, Sen. James P. Pope and then Sen. David Worth Clark, while attending night law school at George Washington University. He graduated in 1940.
After law school, he worked briefly at the Federal Trade Commission, where he was assigned to ask consumers about their impression of the Red Cross brand of toilet paper. He disliked the job, and in 1942, he joined the FBI.
Why write about what's in this week's issue when you can watch Rachael Daigle talk about it, live, on the air:
Daigle on The River, 12-17-08.
Read Schnoor's sculpture shifting piece here.
Also, Daigle doesn't get around to opining on our news section, but we have a story on green realtors from Lora Volkert that examines whether environmentally friendly home sales is more than a fad. And we try to check in with newly elected Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman only to find that she's not going to be talking to the press. Is this more of Ullman's wacky antics or a carefully crafted form of spin control she ripped off Barack Obama? We'll just have to wait and see...
State economist Mike Ferguson delivered a 45 minute slide show lecture on Idaho’s and the nation’s declining economic fortunes to the state’s television, radio and print media recently.
His message: “From the standpoint of the economy what we’re going to be experiencing is pain.”
Five cars, a small truck and a motorcycle are now parking for free in downtown Boise, about a month after the city's new zero-emission vehicle parking ordinance went into effect.
The new city law allows zero-emission cars to park at city meters for free, as long as they display a $10 permit.
“It’s my firm belief that government needs to set the example,” said city parking chief John Eichmann.
Eichmann said the city realizes that only a few Boise drivers have fully electric cars, but that one day there may be thousands of them out there. When citydesk pointed out that could put him out of a job, Eichmann said it would all work out in the long run.
"I'd rather save the environment," he said.
Owners of zero-emission vehicles (no, your Prius does not count), must fill out a form and then have a special emissions inspection.
“The main thing the guys will inspect it for is that the darn thing doesn’t have a tailpipe,” Eichmann said, remarking that some of the cars he's seen have a plug where the gas cap used to be.
Most of the zero-emission vehicles registered in Boise are retrofits, but some factory models are available. California has pushed for more zero-emission vehicles since 1990, to little avail, and more recently offered incentives for hybrid electric cars and trucks as well.
In 1964, Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter voted for Barry Goldwater for president, his first time voting and a choice he recalls with pride.
“First time I ever got to vote,” Otter told a crowd of students before presiding over the state canvass of presidential electors at noon today. “That was one of the best votes I ever made.”
Goldwater lost big to Lyndon B. Johnson winning only 38.5 percent of the popular vote and only 52 electoral votes.
Fast forward 44 years and Idaho’s four Republican electors—Darlene Bramon, Ben Doty, John Erickson and Melinda Smyser—cast their votes today for John McCain and Sarah Palin, who did better than Goldwater-Miller with 45.7 percent of the popular vote and 173 electoral votes. But still not good enough.
Otter lectured the assembled students, classes from Centennial High School and from Boise’s STEP program, a high school continuation course for older students with disabilities, on the sensibility of the Electoral College: “There was never a shot fired, there was never a death caused by a peaceful transition of government,” he said.
Six copies of Idaho’s Electoral College certificates were signed and will be sent to Vice President Dick Cheney, the U.S. archives, the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office and to Idaho’s U.S. District Court Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill. Congress will officially count the electoral votes prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration next month.
Outside the Borah Building, while the votes were being cast, a small crowd gathered to celebrate Idaho’s Constitution Day and read a proclamation that Otter had signed. In the audience, a Ron Paulite on a BMX bike, Pro-Life, a former U.S. Senate candidate who offered to bring more strawberries by the BW office next spring and two guys in wigs, dressed up like Ben Franklin and Patrick Henry held forth on the infallibility of the U.S. Constitution.
As for Otter’s 1964 vote for Goldwater, a candidate who would have fit in well at the Constitution Day event on the Post Office steps, even without a wig: that was the last year that Idaho’s presidential vote went to a Democrat.
Minnesota's Court of Appeals ruled this morning that Larry Craig, Idaho's senior senator, is not entitled to withdraw his guilty plea in a disorderly conduct case that began in an airport bathroom stall.