City Club and State of the City 

Legislators rehash session, Bieter talks incubation

Legislative reunions

On June 8, City Club of Boise hosted four legislators for a recap of the 2009 session. The title of the session was From Intertia to Impasse, and the presentations by two Democrats and two Republicans were littered with plenty of unflattering descriptors: stymie, gridlock, divisiveness, floundering. And Quagga mussels.

Boise Democratic Sen. Kate Kelly pointed out that while there were three bills to protect the state from Quagga mussels, an invasive waterborne species that has not yet appeared in Idaho, the Legislature rejected a bill to regulate septic system leaching into ground water.

Rep. Bill Killen, also a Boise Democrat who said he had tried to repress the session and announced he would not be running for higher office, focused on local option taxing for public transit, garnering the only applause line of the show.

But the Republicans at the table pointed out that the floundering and gridlock were actually a good thing.

"My constituents are excited that we didn't pass a lot of laws," Eagle Rep. Raul Labrador said. And asked why he wouldn't support raising income taxes on the wealthy to shore up the state budget, Caldwell Sen. John McGee had a simple response: "That's why I'm a Republican, I guess."

BW

underwrote the forum, and sat at the head tables.

Boise seeks incubator biz

In his June 3 State of the City speech, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter mentioned that the city was "an investor" in the Water Cooler, BoDo developer Mark Rivers' business incubator for "creative economy" startups.

The city is not exactly an investor, in the venture capital sense one would expect for a creative economy incubator. Boise put about $50,000 into sidewalk and "streetscape" improvements for the old Boise Heating and Cooling Building, where the Water Cooler is located.

Bieter announced in his speech that the city is pursuing its own business incubator--one focused on the green economy--in a city-owned building on Fifth and Idaho streets. It will be called the Green House.

But here's where it gets interesting. The city, through its redevelopment agency, is already involved in the business of business development. Capital City Development Corp. owns the building where the Water Cooler is housed. According to CCDC ED Phil Kushlan, Rivers pays about $25,000 a year in rent to the redevelopment agency, a below-market rate.

Kushlan said that when the Water Cooler moved in, the building was in need of repairs and that CCDC supports the goal of creating a creative-class center in western downtown Boise. Hence, the subsidized rent. The lot, incidentally, had been slated for more downtown housing prior to the incubator going in.

CCDC has also secured about $200,000 in federal 2009 earmarks for business development, some of which will likely go to the Water Cooler or affiliated startups.

As for the Green House, Boise's Division of Water Quality has been resident in the old building but will be moving over to City Hall. Bieter spokesman Adam Park said they'd like to green up the building for the green venture. The idea will likely go through City Council and may eventually involve a nonprofit group or other partner to run it.

--Nathaniel Hoffman

war in Iraq

U.S. CASUALTIES: As of Monday, June 8, 2009, 4,317 U.S. service members (including 31 Idahoans) have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 3,456 in combat and 861 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Injured service members total 31,327. In the last week, seven U.S. soldiers died.

Since President Barack Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 88 soldiers have died.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Defense

IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS: Estimated between 92,311 and 100,786.

Source: iraqbodycount.net

COST OF IRAQ WAR: $676,590,286,236

Source: costofwar.com

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