Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Medium rare

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 3:08 PM

Tomorrow's BW contains a story about a pitched battle between a pair of liberal Idaho bloggers and a right wing radio shock jock in Burley.

Mathias Morache wrote the story (Noah Kroese sent the illustration to the right). As sometimes happens, Morache became part of the story when Zeb Bell mentioned his interview with our writer on his radio show. Zeb at the Ranch airs in the Burley area, reaching into Twin Falls, and streams online:
"I had the option of not doing an interview with him, that was my option and I thought, you know what, I am never gonna to run away, I am never gonna to stick my tail between my legs and not answer anybody’s questions on this because I don’t want to be ever like the low-life vermin of these bloggers that have no courage and no conviction to stand up for what they say by putting their names or attributing to themselves anything to do with those blogs. They are cowards of the keyboard."
That's just a little preview of the story to come... check the News section at boiseweekly.com at midnight tonight, if you just can't wait, and listen here:

But in the time it took us to report, write, edit and format the story in our weekly print news magazine, an entire new storyline has opened up in the MountainGoat/Political Game vs. Zeb war. Those quick bloggers and radio people... damn.

Bell had Rep. Bert Stevenson (R-Rupert) on his show recently and got him talking about homosexuality (one of Zeb's favorite topics, apparently). Stevenson got Biblical on his ass:
“Well, Zeb because that’s the thing that’s happening all over this nation is we’re trying to redefine the purpose of man being here on the earth…If those people want that kind of lifestyle we will do away with the human race. That’s what it was intended to do. Zeb I appreciate your position on this.”
The interview has sparked demands for Stevenson's resignation, an article in the Times-News and, need we say, a slew of blog entries.

So read Mathias' piece and get some ink on your fingers tomorrow. I leave you with the patriot himself... do not take a sip of milk for 60 seconds...

Rousing intro to Zeb at the ranch... mooing may be cut off...

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Obama's schemer

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 2:17 PM

The guy who has Karl Rove's old job—deputy chief of staff to the president—was in Boise last weekend as a guest of the Idaho Democratic Party ... and of his mother in Nampa.

While Jim Messina, 39, bragged of being a "private schemer" (as opposed to a public speaker), he was more mama's boy than Bush's brain.

"How am I doing, Mom?" Messina asked in the middle of his speech at the Democrats' annual Frank Church Banquet. (Mom was gushing.)

[Photo at right: adoring fans try to get Messina to chill downtown; word is he ended up with Idaho Sen. Nicole LeFavour and friends at Reef. LeFavour stole the camera citydesk borrowed and snapped this shot because citydesk could not get a decent angle.]

Messina, who said he consulted with White House speech writers prior to his engagement in Boise, seemed to project much of his speech in the general direction of his family, just right of center stage. The president's top speech writer actually told him to look at his mother if he got nervous.

Earlier in the day, BW asked Messina how he got a job that involves meeting with the President of the United States every morning and, as he perhaps jokingly said later, helping run the world and storing the nuclear codes.

Messina thought for a moment and replied that it was winning lots of elections that landed him a windowless office within earshot of President Barack Obama.

"I don't lose," he said. (Later he admitted to a losing campaign for Jimmy Carter at Boise's East End Roosevelt Elementary School; Messina is a 1988 Boise High School graduate, by the way.)

Obama can reportedly hear Messina cursing through the walls at the White House. In his introduction to Messina's keynote, Rep. Walt Minnick recounted a news story on Obama's prolific fundraising in which Messina was quoted saying, "It's like getting the keys to a friggin' Ferrari."

Minnick, who softened some of Messina's language, said that Messina bragged about money raining down in the final months of the election season, while Minnick spent much of that time "dialing for dollars."

"I can't tell you how many times my good friends and supporters put me on hold to send you their friggin' money," Minnick said.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter enthusiastically proclaimed the date—March 7—as Jim Messina day in Boise.

Messina recalled several times in the last year when he heard from his mother. She phoned after he called John McCain a schmuck during the Democratic National Convention (she called him James Anthony on the phone; Obama told Messina to let him make the headlines). And then a few months later as he boarded Marine One in front of dozens of flashing cameras, Mom called to report that she was watching him on CNN.

Messina told the partisan crowd that Democrats were more organized than ever in the wake of the Obama campaign and that they will use that focus to pass a bill that gives every American health care, promote alternative energy production and change the course of history.

He lauded Obama's stimulus bill, repeating that the western states would see key gains from the energy funding in the bill, and praised Minnick for voting his conscience, even though he voted against the stimulus.

"You need to re-elect Congressman Minnick," Messina said.

Minnick for his part, told the crowd he voted with the Democratic majority two-thirds of the time and did not apologize for the other third. He coached the 650 Idaho Democrats through one part of his speech—the part about defending the Second Amendment.

"I think that's an appropriate applause line," Minnick said to the hushed crowd. The ballroom at the DoubleTree Riverside conceded their claps.

Messina closed his speech quoting from Obama's memoir, which the president reminded his staffer that he wrote when he was Messina's age.

And then he echoed one of Obama's own favorite lines, praising a country in which," a skinny, poor boy from Boise can go to work in the Oval Office."

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Monday, March 9, 2009

CCDC agrees to two-year delay on Library Blocks

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 5:29 PM

The Capital City Development Corp. Board of Commissioners voted today to give developer Mark Rivers until December 2011 to start work on his Library Blocks development.

Rivers requested the two-year extension on the project – part of which would be built on land at Eighth and River that was owned by CCDC – due to the ailing economy. The building on CCDC’s land was to include ground-floor retail and 218 condos, but the market for condos has tanked since the project was first proposed in 2006 and chosen by CCDC in February 2007.

"This should come as no surprise to anyone based on current and projected economic conditions," CCDC Development Manager Katina Dutton said.

Rivers has already received two extensions for the project. The board debated whether to make him pay a $10,000 extension fee.

"This extension fee is extremely nominal for the value of this land," Commissioner Patrick Shalz said. "I think if we don’t put some skin in the game here, we’ll continue to see extensions even if the market does improve."

But City Councilman David Eberle disagreed because the economy was the cause of the delay. "It’s not the developer’s doing," he said.

Another major part of the Library Blocks project would be a new main library on the site of the current downtown library. According to City Councilman Alan Shealy, new branch libraries in Boise have seen a huge amount of traffic. But Eberle said delaying the Library Blocks wouldn’t ruin the city’s plans for a new library because the city is still raising funds from philanthropists and may seek to pass a bond.

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A stimulating bunch

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Idaho's Stimulus Executive Committee met this morning to begin advising Gov. Otter on how to spend Idaho's share of the state's estimated $1 billion in Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

During the two hour meeting, three former governors (picture at right sent by Otter's office) and five former budget directors--four of whom are registered lobbyists--were given copies of the stimulus proposals assembled by Otter's budget office during the past week.

According to Otter spokesman, Jon Hanian, they also, "were briefed on the legal parameters built around the acceptance of stimulus funds. Committee members will be reviewing those documents between now and the next meeting of the committee that is scheduled for Wednesday."

Stimulus proposals can be reviewed here.

Meanwhile, the City of Boise has also set up its own stimulus progress page and it's own committee. The Boise Valley is already in line for almost $55 million in transportation funding through COMPASS, the regional transit authority, and has asked Otter for $7.6 million in state funds as well.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Get yer stimulus, right here

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 5:01 PM

In a rare feat of transparency, Gov. C. L. Butch Otter has put all of the state stimulus proposals online, within about 24 hours of receiving them.

You can check out 1. how state agencies would like to spend stimulus money and 2. how everyone (school districts and cities) and their mother (Micron) wants to spend stimulus money.

Check it out for yourself!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Otter on economy, foreign trade and the 10th Amendment

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter got to know the next generation of business leaders on Wednesday when he attended a lunch sponsored by Boise Young Professionals.

Standing before a crowd of more than 200 Boise business people—nearly all in their 20s and 30s—the 66-year-old Otter shared his personal and political background, touted his support for the 10th Amendment and states' rights, and said unemployment is his biggest concern in the current economic climate.

With his right arm still in a sling from recent surgery to repair the damage of a cattle roping injury, Otter waxed on about his political position and espoused the virtues of groups like BYP, which he said lend incredible political power to younger generations.

While many in the audience wanted to know specifics about the economy, the federal stimulus plan and other pressing issues, Otter offered largely generalities about the current national situation. When it came to the recession, he asked how many people remembered the recession in 1982 and 1983, a question which led to silences as most of the audience remembered their grade-school years.

Otter said he continues to have strong hope for the state economy, due in large part to the enterprising work of new and growing businesses like the ones represented before him in the expanses of downtown Boise's Rose Room.

Listen to Otter's own comments and answers by checking out the video links.

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Franti's fingers still stiff

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 10:30 AM

We just caught Michael Franti's blog post on his shows in Idaho to benefit the Special Olympics. Franti played benefit shows in Boise and in Sun Valley.

We saw him at the Knitting Factory and shot this cell phone picture (yes, citydesk will join the hoards snapping cellie pics at shows, but we refuse to bounce when the performer tells us too, if that makes up for it). 

This is what we wrote (briefly) of the show: Boise became an unexpected international village this week. It was not just Michael Franti who noticed during his packed Monday night benefit concert at the Knitting Factory: "I don't need a passport to walk on this Earth / anywhere I go 'cuz I was made of this Earth / I was born of this Earth / I breathe of this Earth and even with the pain I believe in this Earth." Franti did an upbeat version of his "Everyone Deserves Music" for the Olympians in town and, like many artists who grace our stages, expressed some genuine appreciation for the reggae-funk-starved Boise crowd. 

Franti writes:
It was a huge honor and fantastic fun to play at the 2009 Special Olympic Winter Games in Sun Valley, Idaho. I want to give a big shout out to all the athletes; organizers and volunteers who have continued this journey dedicated to making all people feel special and included. It was a huge community effort and I was particularly moved by receiving a hand knitted blue and white scarf (the Special Olympic colors) from a fan at the show in Boise. Organizers of the event had called to the people of Idaho to make 5000 scarves for the athletes and their families by the time the opening ceremonies began they had received 55,000!!!

When I put it on the next morning I felt the stitching with my fingertips and thought wow someone stayed up late in the night, like my mother did when I was a kid, stitching this scarf for a complete stranger and now those hours are wrapped around my neck (and voice) keeping me warm.
Franti goes on to say his thumb is still numb from playing the outdoor pavilion at Sun Valley and talks about his visit with the athletes.

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Statesman on Atkins (diet)

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 9:35 AM

citydesk bumped into an Idaho Statesman reporter last week who pointed out that BW had not been picking on the daily as much of late. We agreed it had been a few months, and offered that we had more important things to do.

But then, a few days later, the Statesman arrived on our tiled stoop a few inches shorter and thinner, complete with an explanatory pamphlet.

"Busy readers will find even more to like in the new Statesman," the top of the fold bragged.

In newspaper land, that is code for, "we're dumbing it down because we can't afford as much ink anymore."

The Statesman confirms as much in an inside (inside the sports section, that is) business story sidebar: "The paper is 1 inch narrower and about 2 inches shorter, matching the emerging industry standard. It's the same size as USA Today and the Wall Street Journal."

So the Statesman aims to give us the cursory insights of the USA Today, without the fact checking; as you can see the Boise's paper is not the same size (height, width nor girth) of Wall Street's.

The Statesman has begun printing its paper in the back room of the Idaho Press Tribune, as we reported back in June. The Boise Weekly has been printing there for years... BW publisher Sally Freeman visited the presses yesterday to make sure everything was running smoothly and shot this video below. Press Trib Publisher Rick Weaver is giving the tour (if you have dramamine on hand you may want to pop one, Sally is testing out a new newsroom video camera, and she's so excited...):

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