The deadline for organizers wanting to unseat Idaho schools chief Tom Luna to file enough signatures to force an Aug. 30 recall election came and went Monday. But the Recall Tom Luna campaign didn't hit their target of 158,000 required signatures, 20 percent of registered voters in last year's election when Luna was re-elected as superintendent of public instruction. In fact, organizers said they had only approximately 50,000 valid voter signatures.
Additionally, opponents of Sen. Mitch Toryanski and Rep. Julie Ellsworth were unable to garner enough signatures to force a recall of the lawmakers, who represent Idaho District 18. Organizers said they collected approximately 1,000 signatures of the required 4,725.
It was standing-room-only in the Bonneville on the third floor of Boise City Hall through most of the day Monday. Mayor Dave Bieter, Boise City Council members, and managers representing every department in city government are struggling through the unpleasant task of crafting a new two-year budget for Fiscal Years 2012-2013. The workshop is expected to continue through today.
Bieter's proposed spending plan for FY 2012 tops $330 million (approximately $14 million less than FY 2011), but it jumps to $350 million in FY 2013.
"If we hold tight, we should stay in the black," said Tonya Wallace, financial service manager, referring to the current fiscal year. "But a challenge ahead is the impact that high unemployment is having on our sales tax receipts."
Among the recommendations in the mayor's budget: eliminating some positions through retirement and not filling vacancies, a 0.25 percent increase on an electric franchise fee (representing about 18 cents a month for an average homeowner) and a 1.5 percent increase in property taxes. Based on the decrease in property values, the average property tax bill is expected to go down by approximately $24.
A public hearing on a series of new fee increases is scheduled for Tuesday, July 19. The Council is expected to make a final ruling on the budget in mid-August, in preparation for the new fiscal year, which begins in October.
Adding urgency to what has become known as the nation's "debt divide," President Barack Obama has entered in to budget-cutting negotiations tied to the United States' debt limit deadline.
"I think it's about time, finally," Republican Sen. Mike Crapo told Citydesk this morning. "I'm very hopeful that they can find some kind of arrangement that will allow us to move forward."
But Crapo warned that once the debt ceiling battle is over, a greater debt crisis loomed.
"Our total debt is quickly approaching 100 percent of our gross domestic product," said Crapo. "We're facing calamities in our economy that, if we don't deal with them, could push us into significant retraction of the economy, loss of jobs and loss of asset value to everything from retirement accounts to small businesses."
The Western Division of American Fisheries Society, the world's largest organization of its kind, said Monday it wants four dams on the lower Snake River River removed to help save wild salmon and steelhead. The resolution passed by an 86 percent margin.
"These professional fisheries scientists have reviewed a robust amount of peer-reviewed science that concludes a free-flowing lower Snake is vital to recovering these most important populations," said Bert Bowler, retired fisheries biologist with Idaho Department of Fish and Game and a member of the society.
The society adopted the resolution while awaiting Federal District Judge James Redden's decision on the Snake dams and their impact on salmon and other imperiled fish.
The Food and Drug Administration warned yesterday not to eat alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts from Evergreen Produce of Moyie Springs, Idaho. The sprouts are possibly linked to at least 20 reported cases, including one hospitalization, of salmonella in Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota and Washington.
Most persons infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to become severely ill from salmonella.
In a region known for big industries and even bigger salaries, Micron CEO Steve Appleton comes in third on a list of Northwest CEOs' compensation at publicly traded companies, according to Sunday's Seattle Times.
The median pay of top executives at 124 publicly traded companies headquartered in Idaho, Oregon and Washington was $1.34 million, according to the Times. But in 2010, Appleton made more (a lot more) than that. Including salary, bonus and stock, The Times said Appleton pulled down $9,788,856 in compensation, below only Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks ($21 million), and Nike CEO Mark Parker ($13 million).
Pay for other executives with Idaho ties on the list:
$3.5 million to Gordon Jones of Clearwater Paper
$3.1 million to Dennis Wheeler of Coeur d'Alene Mines
$2.4 million to Phillips Baker Jr. of Hecla Mining
$2.2 million to Alexander Toeldte of Boise, Inc.
$2.1 million to J. LaMont Keen of Idacorp
Among CEOs on the job for all of 2009 and 2010, median pay rose 13 percent, the survey found.
Funeral services for Margaret Lawrence, owner of Boise's iconic Hollywood Market, have been scheduled for 11 a.m., Wednesday, June 29 at the Warm Springs Ave. LDS Chapel. A visitation for family and friends will be held from 10 a.m.-10:45 a.m., prior to the services. Burial will follow in the Morris Hill Cemetery.
Friends, neighbors and past customers gathered outside the Hollywood Market Saturday evening to share stories, hugs, tears and laughter in remembrance of Margaret Lawrence. The North End market owner died Wednesday at St. Luke's Boise Medical Center. She was 95-years-old.
Margaret Lawrence, the 95-year-old iconic owner of the Hollywood Market in Boise's North End, died Wednesday at St. Luke's Boise Medical Center.
Lawrence ran her Eighth Street store seven days a week, 10 hours a day for decades. Up until the mid-1990s, she was still making personal grocery deliveries to some of her North End customers. She was famous for leading recall efforts against Boise Mayor Dave Bieter in 2005 and against former Mayor Brent Coles in 2003. Her store was also filled with signs opposing Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. The store was shuttered in early May, with a sign on the door saying "store closed due to illness."
Lawrence is survived by a son, Daniel.
In April, BW first told you about something called the State Street Transit and Traffic Operational Plan. The bold blueprint mapped out traffic alternatives to address population growth, which near State Street is expected to grow 93 percent by 2035. Planners said that if nothing were to be done to offer alternative transportation, State Street would be required to be as wide as nine lanes to accommodate growth.
The 100-plus page analysis is expected to be formally considered this Tuesday afternoon by Boise City Council. The suggested recommendation includes expansion of State Street to seven lanes between 23rd Street and Eagle Road, introduction of high-occupancy lanes for buses and multi-passenger vehicles, and a major expansion of Valley Regional Transit's commuter bus system.
Mayor Dave Bieter and council members will be asked to accept the SSTTOP analysis and fold it into the city's formal comprehensive plan. Valley Regional and Transit and the Capital City Development Corporation have have adopted the plan. The cities of Eagle and Garden City and Ada County Highway District have scheduled adoption dates.
Following a full year of legal wrangling over mega-loads, the governor of Montana wants to take the debate concerning oversized shipments back to where it started. Why, said Gov. Brian Schweitzer, can't ExxonMobil manufacture some of its giant oil refinery equipment in Montana and avoid the controversy of hauling the mega-loads through Idaho and his state before heading up to the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Alberta, Canada?
In a face-to-face meeting with Exxon officials on Friday, Schweitzer said he had no issues regarding the oil sands project, but he advised the executives that future loads, made in Montana, would certainly create jobs and make it easier to overcome objections.
With a handful of exceptions (some family court cases and child custody arguments) cameras are allowed in almost every courtroom in the nation, except one: the United States Supreme Court. The court doesn't allow live television or even audio broadcasting of arguments from inside its chambers. The court provides argument transcripts and some audio on select cases. And Chief Justice John Roberts wants to keep it that way.
In rare comments before a judicial conference held this weekend in West Virginia, Roberts said he's concerned about the effect that having television cameras in the Supreme Court would have on lawyers and justices. He said jurists "unfortunately fall into grandstanding with a couple hundred people in the courtroom" and was worried if that number was dramatically magnified.