Mail and Commentary Sept. 18, 2013 

"I wouldn't allow a stray dog to sleep on my doorstep and defecate in front of my place of business, let alone a stray human."

Boisentv (BW, Note, "Politicians Do the Darndest Things,"Sept. 11, 2013)

Irrigation Irritation

My husband and I own a business called Bounding Hound Farm, and we were impacted by the early irrigation shutoff.

Every day, I see examples of egregious over/misuse of water: sprinklers running in the heat of the day, causing much of the water to evaporate before it provides any benefit to the grass; large swaths of landscaping along busy streets, providing nothing but water-guzzling road adornment for travelers by; decorative waterfalls at countless subdivision entrances, cascading into ponds that serve no purpose.

Where are our priorities? If we as an arid-climate city will allow our water to be used for purely decorative purposes but will cut usage for the farmers of our community, what does this say about our values?

Boise touts itself as a progressive and small business-friendly community, but mine is one of many feeling the impacts of the shutoff. For as many people that I know who claim to love buying local produce and supporting local business--note how large the Capital City Public Market has become, not to mention the various other markets that have popped up in the last few years--I am deeply disappointed in our city's seeming apathy on this issue.

I am asking for a call to action from Mayor Dave Bieter and the city of Boise, United Water and the Idaho Department of Water Resources. Please do your jobs and work to appropriately address water usage in the Treasure Valley; Boise's invaluable water is worth far more than decorative grass and pointless water features.

--Anna Demetriades

Boise

Beg andx forth

Our BW Watchdogs story about the potential legal impacts--and costs--of Boise's aggressive panhandling ordinances (BW, News, "The Hidden Costs of Civil Sidewalks," Sept. 11, 2013) triggered a flood of comments online. Here are just a few:

"We still don't understand why the city seems determined to follow a course that many devoted homeless advocates warn will be counterproductive and that will assuredly result in expensive litigation." All rightly then... so what do these "devoted homeless advocates" say would be productive? If you're gonna shoot down proposed solutions, you should have a counterproposal.

--Andy Hill

It is the wrong solution, but no one wants to confront why homelessness became a big problem in the late 1970s and early 1980s: the well-intentioned efforts to close mental hospitals and make it difficult to hospitalize the seriously mentally ill that started in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, with the support of much of the psychiatric profession. Other side effects including a more than doubling of the hypothermia (freezing to death) death rate between 1974 and 1984; the rise of random acts of mass murder, usually by people with serious mental illness problems that were recognized well in advance by family, mental health workers and police; and the general degradation of urban life.

Most homeless people in Idaho are not mentally ill, but it is certainly a large fraction of our homeless population. On the coasts, severe mental illness is usually a majority of the homeless. Banning aggressive panhandling may seem like the only solution that the city can actually take, much like when Scottsdale, Ariz., some years ago banned eating out of garbage cans. Wrong solution--but the ACLU played a major role in creating the current problem with a series of court decisions in the 1970s.

My book, My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012), gives a detailed history of the good intentions that turned out so wrong.

--Clayton E. Cramer

First Amendment trumps freedom of unobstructed travel because there is no right to unobstructed travel. There is a right to freedom of travel, but nothing about unobstructed.

Otherwise I would be very wealthy considering how my being in a wheelchair means that my 'right to unobstructed travel' is violated pretty much any time I leave my home.

A person has a right to come up to you and make a request. They do not have a right to assault you, physically block you, or anything else of the sort. That would range in offense from harassment to assault or higher crimes.

So long as they just make the request and accept your answer your rights have not been violated.

--Neal Feldman

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