Monday, August 31, 2009

Minnick, Simpson Groveside Chat

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 4:56 PM

Minnick, SImpson, greet fans, critics after City Club show
  • Nathaniel Hoffman
  • Minnick, SImpson, greet fans, critics after City Club show
Idaho’s Congressmen, Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick appeared side-by-side at City Club of Boise last week, agreeing with one another an awful lot and even joking about who should sit on the right side of the dais.

The rare, bipartisan pairing drew a record crowd at the venerable public affairs forum—some 420 people. But, as with most of their votes, Minnick and Simpson agreed more than they disagreed.

Simpson said sometimes his wife does not like how he votes and Minnick said sometimes his wife likes Simpson better. Each talked over the other trying to be the first to deliver a verbatim rendition of the pharmaceutical industry talking points on health care reform and then both made emphatic statements that campaign contributions do not influence votes.

One interesting difference emerged when Minnick admitted to canceling several appointments at the University of Idaho recently because he was behind on his fund raising goals (U of I president Duane Nellis was sitting right up front at the Grove Hotel during the forum). Simpson then said he has only made one fund raising call in his entire federal career.

And then moderator Marty Peterson asked about earmarks and Minnick launched into an impassioned argument against them, asserting that earmarks shortchange the competitive process and deplete funds available for competitive grants.

Simpson said if Congress does not direct earmarks then the administration will; pork is partisan any way you cut it.

But they still agree on earmarks—agree to disagree, that is.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

County Spends $70.12 in Guardian Blogger Promo

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 5:03 PM

Ada County utilized about three hours of staff time and 224 MB of its server space to post a video of David Frazier's recent Town Hall Meeting on EMS services, according to a citydesk public information request filed this morning.

Frazier, a local blogger who focuses obsessively on what government should and should not spend money on, called an "emergency meeting" this week to discuss the City of Boise and its fire department's plans to start its own ambulance service. The city and firefighters boycotted the meeting, but County Commissioner Sharon Ullman was there and county communications staff—from the very department Ullman helped eliminate—filmed the meeting and posted it on the county Web site.

Here is a breakdown of the cost to the county, which is $70.12, according to former Ada County Public Information Director Rich Wright, who is still in charge of public information in his new role as director of the Ada County Department of Administration.

County Communications Staff Time for Video Production: 1.5 hrs (includes set-up and taping)
County Communications Staff Time for Video Import to Editing System: .5 hrs
County Communications Staff Time for Web Page Modification: .5 hrs
(Hourly Rate of County Employee Taping the Meeting: $18.36 hr)
SUBTOTAL Communications Staff Time: $45.90

County I.T. Staff Time for Video Compression: .5 hrs = $23.50
County Cost of Web File Storage: $.71
(File size 224mb - 5,000,000kb)
SUBTOTAL I.T. Staff/Costs: $24.22

Total cost to public coffers: $70.12
Total cost of leaving comment below: priceless.

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Rammell Clarifies Remark on Obama Tags

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Rex Rammell has issued another *funny* clarification of his remarks on Obama hunting tags, via an email this morning. (Ready):

"Anyone who understands the law, knows I was just joking, because Idaho has no jurisdiction to issue hunting tags in Washington D.C."

UPDATE: Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo demands apology from Rammell:

“Rex Rammell’s comments are in very poor taste and should not have been said. Remarks like these should not even be made jokingly. We are engaged in a critical national debate over many major issues facing our country today. Remarks like these are not only unhelpful in that debate, but they undermine it. He should apologize for those remarks and for the perception they may have created.“

ANOTHER UPDATE: Idaho Gov. and gubernatorial candidate C. L. "Butch" Otter also condemning Rammell without naming him:

“Reckless and inflammatory statements like these gravely damage confidence in the political process and the good citizens who serve the public. As Governor, as an Idaho Republican and as a citizen of our state, I reject and condemn this kind of rhetoric. There is no place for it in Idaho.”

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Craig-Kennedy Doggy Connection

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 10:05 AM

Larry Craig told KBOI's Nate Shelman last night that he and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy bonded over their pooches.

Craig could report on his westies, which flew back and forth to Idaho with him, while Kennedy was often seen on the Hill with his Portuguese water dog named Splash. I wonder if Craig ever had the breed discussion with then-Sen. Barack Obama, who opted for the water dog over the lap dog.

Shelman asked some softball questions about working across the aisle and health care reform and got a strong reaction from Craig when he asked about conservatives being glad Kennedy is gone.

"I am never pleased and always saddened by the death of anyone, young, old, it is simply a loss because they mean a great deal to some one. And I don't think any of us should ever speak of death as a positive experience unless you have a tremendously feeble suffering person who oftentimes may be meeting their maker in a much more pleasurable way by death," Craig said.

(Is that an endorsement of euthanasia, perhaps?)

But seriously: How can you have Larry Craig on your radio show and not ask him what he's doing, who his clients are and where his book is? Craig is not doing that many interviews—I don't know of any live ones that he's done since last year, so if you are going to ask him about health care reform, at least probe his motives a bit.

You can listen to the interview here, courtesy of Shelman at New Talk 670 KBOI.

Also read recollections from Dirk Kempthorne and Bethine Church at (It was Sun Valley, of course!)

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Rammell "Jokes" About "Obama Tags"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 9:46 AM

Rex Rammell, hunter?
  • Rex Rammell, hunter?
Rex Rammell, the East Idaho veterinarian who would like to be a Senator or governor or something, has criticized Gov. Otter for not buying the first wolf tag and, according to the Times-News, indicated he'd buy an "Obama tag" if offered.

Times-News reporter Jared Hopkins recounts an incident from a Tuesday night GOP fundraiser:

After an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags" during a discussion on wolves, Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those."

Rammell tells the Times-News that it was a joke. But Rammell also sent Hopkins' story around to his media distribution list this morning.

Rammell also said Otter should have been first in line or ordered Fish and Game to save him the first tag and told Times-News reporter Jared Hopkins that the governor should have prioritized buying the tag over attending a former lawmaker's funeral.

He said "there's nothing wrong with going to a funeral" but promises as both a governor and a candidate should be followed through on. He questioned whether environmental groups pressured Otter to back off.

"He could've had someone go get it for him," he said. "Hell, he's the governor. He could've ordered the Fish and Game to give him the first tag."

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Know these grainy dudes?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Boise Police Department is asking for help from the public to identify the White T-shirt Mafia.

And just for clarification, citydesk gets the credit for calling them the White T-shirt Mafia—not BPD.

Apparently some parents don't know where their kids are in the wee hours of the morning because if they did, we're pretty sure the three stooges pictured here would be in bed rather than running loose armed with spray paint. While citydesk has some progressive opinions on graffiti as art, this ain't the place for it and neither is the common building in the Harris Ranch area that was the apparent victim. And for the record, we're presuming the suspects shown here are kids, but honestly, there is a very real possibility that they're full-fledged adults who just never thought to look for a security cam.

These pics from BPD are pretty grainy, but how many 'fro-headed, side-hat-wearin' white T-shirt mafia members can there be out there? Recognize someone? Then they're in deep do-do because the po-po want to bust 'em for vandalism. And according to the po-po, this isn't the WTM's first rodeo so they're really in a heap o' trouble.

Call Crime Stoppers at 208-343-COPS with information.



Whats this bloke doing, exactly? Reading the directions on his spray paint? Text messaging in the act?
  • What's this bloke doing, exactly? Reading the directions on his spray paint? Text messaging in the act?

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Craig on Kennedy on KBOI

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig will speak with Nate Shelman about Ed Kennedy's legacy in about two hours. You can hear the interview at about 5:20 on KBOI 670 AM or streaming on the Web.

Don't listen now, because Hannity is still on the air talking about Fidel Castro "endorsing" Obama's healthcare plan. Hannity - I never had a problem wiping my ass in Cuba, buddy, plenty of TP...

Craig and Kennedy worked together on "comprehensive" immigration reform a few years ago (seems like ancient history now). It will be interesting to see how Craig recalls this issue in his retirement.

Kennedy reax are pouring in from all over the world at BW's world news wire, GlobalPost. The Irish are really bummed and South Africans recall his work fighting Apartheid.

And Popkey digs up a Kennedy Sun ValleyIdaho ski trip (where'd they ski, read the Statesman tomorrow to find out).

UPDATE: Crapo: Kennedy got Idaho

“We had very different political philosophies, but regardless of the differences in our positions, Senator Kennedy was always a straight shooter. He was a spirited debater to be sure, and a ferocious advocate about his issues, but the tone was never personal. As he and I worked on issues as they moved through the Senate, even though we were often coming from opposing points of view, we developed a strong personal friendship. He would often ask me about Idaho and had a very good understanding of our state. His style and commitment to public service stand as an example to all of us. My condolences go out to his extended family. I personally will miss my association with him in the U.S. Senate.”

Minnick: Hatch got Kennedy

“Senator Orrin Hatch put it best when he said today that Senator Kennedy’s death meant the loss of a ‘treasured friend.’ For Democrats, the Senate, the Congress and this country, it is the loss of an icon. Senator Kennedy was a reminder of a legislative era to which we should return, an era where members of Congress focused on friendship, decency and respect rather than partisanship. Senator Kennedy’s work for this country and his work to find common ground is a reminder of where we must look as a nation in these difficult times. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

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Open Houses and Open Hours

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Ada County is showing off its new elections facility this week, with open hours on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 400 N. Benjamin Lane, Suite 100, near the mall.

You can see how ballots are scanned and counted and get some data on the last election and volunteer opportunities.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is also holding an open office session on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon in his office at City Hall (Third Floor). You get 10 minutes with the mayor... first come, first served...

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Red Team vs. Blue Team

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 11:48 AM

Ada County EMS Director Troy Hagen addresses the open forum.
  • Mathias Morache
  • Ada County EMS Director Troy Hagen addresses the open forum.
A crowd of some 60 concerned citizens and blog readers gathered yesterday at the Boise Public Library, to discuss the future of EMS in Ada County. The confab was hosted by Boise Guardian blogger David Frazier, a vocal critic of Boise Fire Department’s efforts to start a new ambulance service.

After months of fierce debate online at and at The Guardian, the debate left the Internet and entered The Real World. Sort of. While an assortment of white uniformed Ada County Paramedics were present to answer questions, Boise Fire Department refused to attend, leaving a lopsided panel.

“I think the fact that Boise Fire Department isn’t here speaks volumes. They think they can do EMS better, faster and cheaper? What’s their plan? Let’s hear it,” said one irate attendee. Multiple speakers expressed frustration that BFD was not present to answer questions directly.

Fire had announced earlier Monday they would not participate.

“The host for this event has already taken a stand on the issue and therefore cannot serve as an impartial moderator in this debate,” explained Greg Womack, president of firefighters Local No. 149, in a press release. “Boise Fire is committed to ensuring the highest quality emergency medical services to all Boise residents and looks forward to working with all involved parties to achieve that goal.”

Along with camera crews from two local news stations, Ada County recorded the meeting for permanent record, which one man said he hoped BFD would watch.

Frazier noted that the State EMS licensing Bureau also refused to attend, citing political reasons. At the forefront of the discussion was BFD's plan to purchase an ambulance, pending approval by the bureau.
If successful, the BFD ambulance would replace an existing ACEMS ambulance housed at a fire station. This plan was met with widespread criticism by those in attendance.

"What is the purpose of replacing one ambulance with another ambulance?" asked one man.

"Any wholesale changes should be determined by the people," said Frazier. "When we put the EMS system together in '75, we were looking for cooperation, not a standoff. This has become red team versus white team. It makes no sense."

Ada County EMS Director Troy Hagen explained that the existing laws governing EMS only contribute to the confusion.

"The laws were written in the 60's and 70's and are not well suited for the current climate," said Hagen. "This is our passion. This is our livelihood. We operate at a high level of performance and want to continue to do so for years to come," said Hagen, prompting applause.

County Commissioner Sharon Ullman was the lone political officeholder present at the meeting. "In January, the fire chief said he can do EMS better, faster, and cheaper. We have yet to see how," said Ullman.

Ullman said that she is working on establishing one set of working orders for both ACP and BFD so that they operate on a single "play book" for procedure, possibly incorporating joint training.

"The only thing we haven't done is agree to have them bring on an ambulance," said Ullman. Ullman and Frazier both expressed the feeling that there is a lack of knowledge on the part of City Council about the situation. Frazier noted that city council president Maryanne Jordan said she will address the issue at a September work session.

No ER doctors from St. Luke's or St. Alphonsus’ attended the meeting, although Frazier cited a letter from such physicians claiming that they saw no reason for duplication of services, and are advocates of establishing a unified protocol of medical response.

One man, identifying himself as an emergency physician for Mercy Medical Center in Nampa spoke on behalf of the medical community, although he noted that he does not speak for either of the care providers affiliated with ACP.

"As a whole, the system works best with firefighters as first responders," said the physician, claiming the duties of first responders and paramedics should not be mixed. "Care and transporting patients is complicated and best handled by paramedics. The system in Boise works well and is what most other cities use," said the physician.

To close the meeting, Frazier called for a citizen commission of oversight, noting that he has been a vocal advocate of a similar commission for police oversight and feels that both fire and police could be combined in a single commission.

"I've been a strong proponent for a police commission so citizens have a voice in essential services. The same goes for fire. We wouldn't have these problems today if we had a board," said Frazier.

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Cycling Task Force Open to Public Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 10:36 AM

Boise's cycling safety task force will hold an open house tonight to share its recommendations and take public comment.

The open house is from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight in the City Council chambers on the third floor of City Hall. A second open house is planned for Thursday, Aug. 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. at City Hall West in the Sawtooth Room (333 N. Sailfish Place, off Emerald Street between Maple Grove and Five Mile roads).

There is also a City Council meeting at noon today. The council will be briefed on several transportation plans, including an update on the streetcar issue. The council will also consider a series of city code updates that may or may not include some controversial changes. One resolution makes "Senior Managers and Command Staff, other than Police Lieutenants" at will employees. Another, scrutinized at the Boise Guardian, appears to give the Fire Chief managerial authority over hospital transport, i.e., ambulance services.

City spokesman Adam Park said the chief already has managerial authority over transport and that it does not change anything.

“That was something they added to memorialize the authority of the chief regarding EMS - to put it on the record,” Park said. “We still have the same budget process that applies to everything else.”

In other words, purchases like ambulances still require City Council approval.

Just to make it that much more exciting, the council is also reaffirming its crackdown on the Torch 2 at lunch today.

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