Friday, August 22, 2008

Dem spokesman let go

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 3:57 PM

Chuck Oxley, spokesman for the Idaho Democratic Party has been let go on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Oxley started in 2005 as the first party worker in Idaho to be hired under Howard Dean's 50 State Partnership program. The Democratic National Committee funds two organizers and a communications director at the Idaho part office.

Idaho Dems latest Executive Director Jim Hansen said Oxley was not a good fit but wished him well.

Reached by phone, Oxley said he outlasted two chairmen and three executive directors, but that he no longer shares the same view of his job with the current party leadership.

"It came to a point where the discussions about what to do became longer than what we were actually doing," Oxley said. "That’s not to say that I don’t wish the Democrats the best of luck."

Oxley, a former Associated Press reporter who also worked at the Idaho Statesman and at the Idaho State Journal, hopes to get back into the reporting game, saying he's better suited to journalism than party politics.

Perhaps punditry is in his future? 

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Brandi was not premature

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 3:33 PM

Our recent chat with Brandi Swindell was one of the toughest interviews of our career. It resulted in this Citizen Boise that appears in this week's BW.

But there were parts of the interview that did not translate. As in, we did not seem to be speaking the same language. This exchange in which Brandi explains that no, she was not a premie, she was pre-born and that we possibly had a right to life too, is one example. There were more...

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Where's Walt-o?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 3:03 PM

First, BW broke the news that First District Rep. Bill Sali has both his congressional and campaign offices in the Second District, despite federal regulations requiring that congressional offices be in the district they represent. Now, the Idaho Republican Party is attempting to turn the tables on Sali’s opponent, Democrat Walt Minnick.

The party released a statement yesterday alleging that Minnick had claimed primary residence and paid 2008 property taxes on a home in the Second District. While the release admits that Minnick is currently living in a rented house in the First District, it states that Minnick had taken a homeowners exemption for his 2008 property taxes.

“It reminds me of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Where is Walter Minnick’s primary place of residence? Does he live at the location where he’s registered to vote? Or does he live at the location where he’s claiming a property tax exemption of $100,000? Where’s Walter’s house?,” Idaho Republican Party chairman Norm Semanko, said in the release. “If Minnick doesn’t owe Ada County for improperly taking the $100,000 exemption, he at least owes Idahoans an explanation.”

Well, turns out Minnick has a simple explanation: No one has paid property taxes for 2008 yet.
The property tax bill covering the first half of 2008 isn’t due until December, and the last property tax billing in June only included the last half of 2007, according the Ada County Assessor’s Office.

According to Minnick’s spokesperson, John Foster, Minnick did own and live in a home in the Second District until October 2007, before moving to the First District. Minnick took the homeowners’ exemption for 2007, and paid the taxes on his Second District home in June.
Since last October, Minnick has lived in a rented home in the First District while waiting for his other home to sell before building a new house on property he has owned in the First District for the last 25 years.

While Minnick still owns his house in the Second District, it is no longer his primary residence and he has not filed for a 2008 homeowners’ exemption.

“They implied a lot of things that are not true,” Foster said of the GOP allegations.

While Minnick does live in the district he is seeking to represent, he technically doesn’t have to. According to Idaho law, a candidate does not have to live in the district they want to represent—although it does help.

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Ellsworth has great hair

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 1:27 PM

District 18 legislative candidate Julie Ellsworth promises to confront radical jihad, combat international terrorism and curb federal spending.

She also seems to think she's the governor of Massachusetts.

Now, that link above may not work, because, in her defense, Ellsworth is obviously still putting her campaign Web site together. But on her issues page, Ellsworth, a former legislator who was unseated in 2006 when District 18 went all Democrat, has lifted Mitt Romney's "Strategy for a Stronger America" platform in it entirety.

citydesk has preserved it below:

We left Ellsworth a message this afternoon and will let you know when we hear back. Ellsworth is challenging Rep. Branden Durst, who has had a totally functional site for a long time, with a hint of  Obama's Web style.

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Guv gets street parking

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 1:00 PM

No more hitching his State Police suburban to the hitching post next to the Borah Building. Or, parking on the sidewalk, which would be a more accurate way to say that. The ISP truck that is assigned to Gov. Butch Otter now has a spot of its own.

The City of Boise has dedicated two spots on 8th Street to ISP for the governor's security detail. No one is parked there today because Otter is in Sun Valley golfing. It's for a good cause, the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament. And hey, it's a golf tourney in Sun Valley with heavy corporate sponsorship, so it's a great opportunity to press the flesh.

In case you missed it, Otter had been parked (it's not his car, it's a state police rig) on the sidewalk since the Legislature kicked him out of his offices in the State Capitol for two years. Idaho State Police told BW that the spot on the wide sidewalk near the backdoor was a security precaution, recommended by none other than the Secret Service.

But the city complained (and got complaints) and an awkward back and forth between the state and the city ensued, for, like a year. Now everyone is friends again and in about a year Otter will get his driveway across the street back.

ISP has also requested a street spot at the Supreme Court building.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Howland responds

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2008 at 9:43 AM

Multi-state tax auditor Stan Howland, in short e-mail to media, cast doubt on Gentry report alleging Gentry has more conflicts of his own:

"It has come to my attention that Mr. Gentry sits on the Federal & State Taxation Committee of the Idaho Society of Certified Public Accountants. Also on this committee are Commissioners Chigbrow and Grant, along with Tax Commission Policy Manager, Dan John. This, along with the fact that Mr. Gentry has represented many clients before the Tax Commission, removes any doubt as to his conflict of interest in conducting this latest 'review.'"
While Gentry is on the committee, Chigbrow, Grant and John are listed as mere "liaisons" on the Society's Web site.

Otter, has ordered a clarification of the tax commission's settlement process and more reporting on tax settlements to the tax committee, according to an AP story in the Times-News. Of course, some key legislators have already dismissed the entire affair.

Howland is still calling for a bipartisan investigation of the Tax Commission. We'll upload the documentation, when we figure out how.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gentry report released

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 at 4:42 PM

LaVern Gentry says the Idaho State Tax Commission is following its policies in giving regular and significant out-of-state corporate income tax breaks, but that some review and clarification is warranted.

We just got the report, via the Governor's Office. Read it here.

"My conclusion reached is that the Idaho State Tax Commission's above actions are not detrimental to sound tax policy and that the Commission did not misuse 'Doubt as to liability.'"
Gentry says the comp and close agreements that veteran tax auditor Stan Howland revealed are "fair and reasonable," that there was a "doubt as to liability" in several cases he reviewed, allowing the tax commissioners to compromise the settlement and he has a list of suggestions that the governor and the Legislature might consider.

A near quorum in the the Tax Commission's multi-state corporate tax division disagrees, charging that there is not doubt as to liability and that the settlements are patently sketchy, if not outright illegal.

We're still reading the report and seeking comment...

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Friday, August 15, 2008

CWI talks to public

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 7:00 PM

The College of Western Idaho is asking the public to chime in on what folks would like to see at a community college. On upcoming Thursdays: Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Nampa Civic Center and Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Boise Center on the Grove the nascent college will hold a pair of "community conversations."

Topics for discussion include:

  • What should CWI offer in terms of classes?
  • What kind of educational experience should CWI create to enable students to be prepared for the 21st century workplace?
  • What are the specific actions CWI should take to be a catalyst for economic development?
  • How can CWI partner with employers to provide workforce development opportunities?
  • How should CWI attract and retain students?
  • How can CWI contribute to the well-being of our community?
BW wrote recently about some consternation among community college-like instructors at Boise State. Perhaps they have some questions of their own?

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

City working on alt trans too

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 5:26 PM

Boise City workers who walk to work at least 60% of the time during the fair-weathered months can get $40 toward a pair of new shoes. Bike commuters get a free lock and $40 toward repairs. Also available are free bus passes and free parking for serious carpoolers.

All of these are part of a major effort to reduce fuel costs and pollution in Boise. At its Tuesday meeting, Boise City Council got a peek at a long list of alternative transportation measures that the city has undertaken. And a longer list is coming.

According to the memo from Michael Zuzel, a Climate Protection Program Advisory Committee is prioritizing a list of 87 additional recommendations that will be sent up to City Hall next month.

Many of the ideas are already in effect: the subsidies to city workers, a new anti-idling policy for which Guardian Frazier would like to take credit, although the coppers can still idle if it's a "police emergency," and flex schedules.

Boise also promotes bike commuting and carpooling and funds much of the valley's bus service. And the city will take suggestions on other good green ideas.

UPDATE: The City Council did not have time to discuss this effort at its meeting and will take it up again next Tuesday afternoon. The committee report, which took 18 months to complete, according to Zuzel, is available online as well.

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