Friday, August 27, 2010

End of the Line for Boise Trolley Tours

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 5:10 PM

It's official, the Boise City Attorney's office told Debra Miller that her lease is revoked, and if she tries to operate her trolley tour, she'll be cited for violating city code of peddling in a park without a license. The letter said Jim Hall, director of the Boise Department of Parks and Recreation reviewed e-mails and correspondence, accusing Miller of rude, profane and disrespectful" conduct and language. The formal notice said that the city could seize any of Miller's property used in violation of the order. Here's a copy of the letter.

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BOI and TRACON

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 3:25 PM

The New Air Traffic Control Tower at BOI
  • The New Air Traffic Control Tower at BOI

Friday, Idaho Sen. Jim Risch (R) and a group of reporters gathered at the new facility for a tour, and some talk of what’s to come for Boise’s airport. The cement control tower at the South end of the airport rises a staggering 295 feet into the air, casting a shadow like that of an Egyptian obelisk.

The new $23 million facility, when opened, will boast 550 sq.-feet at the top, and over 11,000 sq.-feet at the bottom, where the TRACON will be located. Building was temporarily delayed over a decision to implement new radar technology, a federal requirement by 2013, or maintain the old system for now.

Back in June, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, Senators Risch and Mike Crapo, and Congressman Walt Minnick announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had decided to let Boise airport’s TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) station remain in the Treasure Valley. Originally the FAA had promoted moving the TRACON terminal to Salt Lake City, where they would monitor Boise’s air traffic remotely.

The FAA originally claimed that the move would save taxpayers a total of $24 million over 25 years. Opponents quickly raised safety concerns with the arrangement, and argued that the move would ultimately cost Boiseans more money, namely in installation of a high-speed data connection from Boise to Salt Lake.

“From the beginning, all we asked was that the decision be based on sound, verifiable information,” Mayor Bieter said at the time. “Keeping the TRACON here is going to save a considerable amount of money.”

In addition to keeping the 30 jobs necessary for tower operation in Boise, the facility allows the airport potential for future growth. “The new addition of the new terminal has actually obstructed some of the old tower’s view…the airport effectively outgrew the old tower,” said Mark Griffin, an airtraffic controller.

While looking over the valley from what is now the tallest building in Boise (“except for the one with the Christmas tree during the holidays”), Senator Risch and General Gary Saylor talked about plans for a third full-size runway south of the new tower. Currently named the “assault strip” for its military use, the 5000 foot long strip would eventually be lengthened to 11000. To get there, terminal access would be built below a redone Gowen Road, which runs south of the Airport.

"It's always good to win one...it's hard to say what the results would have been. We all knew the importance of it, so we put our weight behind it," said Risch.



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Get Used to Seeing More Alaska, Less Horizon

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 2:31 PM

More than 2,000 commercial flights take off from the Boise Airport each month, most of them Horizon Airlines. Horizon, while a subsidiary of Alaska Air, operates and is managed as a separate entity. That's about to change.

Employees of Horizon were told this week, that the company is turning responsibility for marketing and selling its tickets over to Alaska in January. Under what is called a "capacity purchase agreement," Horizon will fly the routes that Alaska dictates, which will also fix the prices. Alaska will market the flights and retain all of the ticket revenue.

The airline is also outsourcing heavy maintenance on its feel to an Idaho firm, Empire Aerospace, headquartered in Coeur d'Alene. Horizon's operations center, currently in Portland, Ore., will be merged with
Alaska's center in Seattle.

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306,000 Acres Torched in Long Butte, 1300 Acres in Hurd Fire

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 12:57 PM

More than 50 new lightning-caused fires erupted late on Aug. 26, adding to the already-tasked firefighters stretched across Southwest Idaho. The fires are scattered in Boise, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee and Valley counties.

The largest by far is the Long Butte Fire which was ignited by lightning on Aug. 21. As of the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 27, more than 306,000 acres had been torched, including an important habitat for a wild horse herd and some of the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.

Long Butte Fire
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Long Butte Fire

In Valley County, Sheriff's deputies have lifted the Level 3 evacuation order surrounding the Hurd Fire and lowered it to Level 2 status. That means residents must still be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.
On Aug. 26, strong, southerly winds whipped the fire to 1,300 acres, doubling its original size.
Hurd Fire
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Hurd Fire

You can follow the status of the fires at http://www.inciweb.org/

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Catholic Charities "Roast" Rescheduled

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Catholic Charities of Idaho has rescheduled its largest fundraiser, after an independent candidate for governor forced its delay.

The charity had planned to hold its fourth annual Loaves and Fishes event, its largest fundraiser of the year. The event, modeled after New York City's Al Smith Dinner, was slated to be a roast of Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, his Democratic opponent Keith Allred, Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick and his Republican challenger Raul Labrador.

Independent gubernatorial hopeful Jana Kemp labeled the fundraiser a "prohibited activity," risking Catholic Charities' nonprofit status.

"We're not in a position to use our stewardship dollars to fight a legal battle with Ms. Kemp," Catholic Charities Executive Director Rosio Gonzalez told Citydesk. "Yes, I did have a conversation with Ms. Kemp. She said she never intended to make the issue political, which she did. We agreed to disagree."

Gonzalez said the event has been rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 29, long after the election is over.

"We don't know if we'll raise as much money then. We hope so," Gonzalez told Citydesk.

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Final Decision Could Come Today on Boise Trolley Tours

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 10:24 AM

A decision is expected sometime Friday, Aug. 27, on the fate of the controversial operator of the Boise Trolley Tours. City of Boise spokesman Adam Park told Citydesk that Parks and Recreation Director Jim Hall should decide whether to enforce a revocation of the lease, due to reports of abusive language toward customers and Julia Davis Park patrons.

City officials sent warning letters to Debra Miller in 2009, and again this summer following complaints about her being rude and aggressive toward park users. In July, the city issued a lease revocation effective Friday, Oct. 1. But the complaints kept coming in, so they sent another revocation, effective Aug. 18, but wanted to give Miller opportunity to respond. And she has. Below is her letter, sent Tuesday, Aug. 27.

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When the city hands down its decision, Citydesk will let you know.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Read Conoco's Appeal to Supreme Court on Pending Oil Shipments

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Sources tell Citydesk that it would need to be an "emergency" or "extraordinary circumstances" for the Idaho Supreme Court to alter its schedule to shoe-horn an appeal by ConocoPhillips into its tight schedule.

Citydesk has obtained a copy of the appeal filed with the high court, contesting 2nd District Judge John Bradbury's ruling to halt Conoco's plans to haul four massive loads of oil equipment across Central Idaho. Bradbury cited the plan's desire to delay traffic up to 15 minutes when state regulations prohibit anything longer than 10 minutes.

But a quick review of the State Supreme Court calendar indicates a packed schedule through December, with 35-40 pending cases. In addition to the appeal, Conoco is also expected to file a motion to "expedite" the process. Unlike many other states, Idaho's Supreme Court is required to hear every appeal or assign the case to the Appellate Court.

You can read the full appeal below.

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Payette Woman: "You Want to Know Why this Mobile Home Went Up in Flames?"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Catherine Carlson, arrested in Payette last month for setting fire to the trailer where she lived and placing what looked like four pipe bombs on her stoop, was moved in late July from isolation in the Payette County Jail to the Idaho State Hospital in Orofino where she remains for an undetermined period of time.

Payette County Prosecutor Anne-Marie Kelso told CityDesk that although she could not talk specifically about Carlson because of medical privacy laws, explained that when a judge commits someone it is because the court suspects mental illness and the defendant is likely to hurt themself or others.

“Everything is stayed right now. Once she is out of the mental hospital they will complete the physiological evaluation regarding the issue of whether she can assist her attorney and only then can we proceed,” said Kelso.

Charged with felony first degree arson and using a hoax destructive device, Carlson faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

“I can’t say for sure,” said Kelso, “but it would be very unlikely to ask for the maximum sentence.”

Carlson said her case boils down to one thing: respect for her identity as a woman. In 1980 Carlson had sexual reassignment surgery to become a woman. As one of several pre-conditions for surgery, Carlson had her name legally changed. However despite her efforts to get it removed, Idaho state records list Carlson’s former male name as an a.k.a.

“You want to know why this mobile home went up in flames?” asked Carlson. “It went up in flames because they wouldn’t transfer it into my name and the reason why is because I don’t have an I.D., and I don’t have an I.D. because they are insisting that they keep that a.k.a.”

Carlson told CityDesk that when police stopped her for a traffic violation and checked her license plate or drivers license number for warrants, it came back with her former male name.

“I’m a FCC ham radio operator so when they do that, they are literally telling everyone I know this information because they listen to the police scanners, said Carlson. “It puts a target on my back” and it's “none of their business.”

Carlson’s court appointed public defender Phillip Heersink was contacted but told CityDesk “I have no comments at all regarding the Catherine Carlson Case.”

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A Forgotten Anniversary?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 10:08 AM

In 1920, the Irish War for Independence was raging, Babe Ruth was traded by the Red Sox to the Yankees, Joan of Arc was canonised, and Douglas Fairbanks was starring in The Mark of Zorro. And on this date in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted.

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

We heartily recommend a re-read of Carissa Wolf's BW feature on the state of feminism in Idaho.

You may also want to check out this op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times.

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Supreme Argument Pending Over Massive Loads on U.S. 12

Posted By on Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 10:00 AM

What started as a grass-roots opposition to transport mega-loads of oil equipment across U.S. Highway 12 is now heading to the Idaho Supreme Court.

The world's fifth largest refiner, ConocoPhillips, is challenging 2nd District Judge John Bradbury's decision to halt four loads from the Port of Lewiston across U.S. 12 and into Montana. Bradbury said Idaho regulation clearly states that traffic should not be delayed more than 10 minutes, while Conoco's plan was to hold traffic up to 15 minutes while the loads crawled across North-Central Idaho.

Conoco is not only fighting for a permit but fighting against the clock. Arrow Bridge, just east of Lewiston, has been undergoing major renovation this summer, and there was a 10-day window in between one side of the bridge being resurfaced and the beginning of the same on the other side.

In Conoco's appeal, filed by Erik Stidham of the Boise law firm Holland and Hart, the company challenges Bradbury's refusal to give the Idaho Transportation Department "deference regarding interpretation of its own regulations."

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