Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Little Kicks off Campaign

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 12:57 PM

Brad Littles Stolen Facebook Profile Picture
  • Brad Little's Stolen Facebook Profile Picture
Lieutenant Gov. Brad Little will officially kick off a campaign on Friday in Boise, though his announcement for the event is vague on what he will announce.

Little has scheduled a 9 a.m. press conference at Capitol Park, in front of the Statehouse cyclone fencing in Boise, followed by events in Idaho Falls and Coeur d'Alene. Actually, he's holding a $25 a pop announcement breakfast at the Crystal Ballroom prior to the press announcement.

He has a full campaign committee, chaired by former Lite Govs Gov. Butch Otter, Sen. Jim Risch, and the other former Lite Govs Jack Riggs and Mark Ricks and deputies divided up by regions of the state. He has been raising money for a year. He is "officially running for the Office of Lt. Gov." according to a campaign official.

And yet, even his campaign Web site is totally vague on what office he's running for. Even his Facebook friends appear clueless.

Why all the secrecy for a popular, sitting lieutenant governor? Is it just a social media ploy? Does Little have something up his sleeve? Or is citydesk just a sucker for a good conspiracy theory?

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City Council to Meet with ACHD on Bike Safety

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 7:53 AM

The Boise City Council enthusiastically accepted a report from the city's Bike Safety Task Force Tuesday during its noon meeting, requesting a sit down with the Ada County Highway District, a briefing on ACHD's bike plan and indicating that it would consider implementing many of the suggestions in the report.

Michael Zuzel, with help from police and lawyers, presented the findings of the committee, including suggestions for infrastructure, enforcement and education.

As Zuzel had predicted, the three-feet-to-pass law garnered the most discussion, with Councilman Alan Shealy suggesting that writing "when possible" into the law would give drivers and excuse not to follow it.

"I'm just concerned that 'when possible' is going to completely emasculate the three-feet-to-pass," he said.

In Colorado, drivers are permitted to cross the double yellow line to get around a cyclist, but that would require a change in state law in Idaho, not just city code. The Task Force has been talking to Sen. Elliot Werk about other possible changes to state law that would improve bike safety.

Even among the Council members, the need for bike safety education was apparent. Councilman Vern Bisterfeldt, a former cop, suggested that cyclists used to be told to ride against traffic and cautioned against confusing people too much, particularly the elderly and kids.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Publisher Parrish on Daily's Future

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Idaho Statesman publisher Mi-Ai Parrish spoke at City Club of Boise yesterday afternoon, first addressing the audience with optimistic news about the daily paper's current status and then submitting to a fairly friendly grilling from audience questions.

Although officially titled "The Future of Your Daily Newspaper," Parrish's comments revealed less about the future than they did of the present. In short, Parrish said the Statesman's readership is up (even in the 18-34 demographic), that McClatchy is a "solidly profitable multi-media company" (emphasis on the multi-media with warm fuzzies for Twitter, Facebook and and that while it may look like the paper is down, given the one-two punch of a deep recession and the rise of the Internet, the Statesman is certainly not out.

Come question time, City Clubbers seemed mostly concerned about money. At least at first.

Parrish fielded questions about selling Statesman content on the Internet, the impact of free classified listings like Craigslist and the possibility of large dailies becoming 501(c)3's or getting a government bail out. The answers: Parrish hates to give away content, including on the Internet; non-profit status could help secure grants to do expensive investigative reports; and she's no fan of government bailing out media—better to keep a free press free of Uncle Sam's money.

Eventually Parrish was faced with questions about the Statesman's editorial content, specifically its paltry business section and what one questioner called a complete lack of investigative reporters. As to the former, Parrish said sure, she'd like to have a bigger biz section but to the latter, she simply flat out disagreed. While that was a short and sweet answer to a serious concern, it at least came off better than a backhanded "duly noted," which she delivered in answer to a question about the defunct Tech Monday column.

Someone in the audience beat citydesk to the punch with a question about Boise Weekly, and whether the Statesman considered BW competition, or if there's a possibility for collaboration between the two papers. Short answer: like all media, we compete editorially but it's not necessarily an adversarial relationship.

And in case Parrish's McClatchy bosses want to know how well she towed the company line without giving away too much, citydesk gives her an "A." We heard more than once about "core competencies" and when asked to state exactly how many people had been affected by the Statesman's recent lay-offs, Parrish had a great non-answer answer. Parrish started the lay-off numbers with 28 pressman (14 of whom moved to Idaho Press-Tribune with the press switch earlier this year) and then wandered off into different territory without addressing numbers in the newsroom or elsewhere—numbers that citydesk wagers the asker was actually interested in.

Citydesk did get a couple of good chuckles out of the forum. First, when Parrish said the Statesman has been accused of being too far left. (Heck, if that's the case, some people out there must think BW is so far left we're almost right.) And second, when moderator Marcia Franklin told Parrish the new-ish headline/subhead/first graph is sometimes too confusing for readers.

In the end, what did we learn about the future of Idaho's largest daily newspaper? Well, its publisher doesn't think we can live without it and since she inked a 20-year print contract with the Press-Trib, she's optimistic that it'll be around a while.

One final note: The forum had originally been titled "The Future of Newspapers" before it was slightly altered to better reflect Parrish's area of expertise. Regardless, the forum apparently didn't draw much attention from Parrish's counterparts at other area newspapers. Idaho Press-Tribune Publisher Rick Weaver and Boise Weekly Publisher Sally Freeman passed up City Club to dish on industry gossip over lunch at Sweetwater's Tropic Zone.

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Google Where to Vote

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 2:53 PM

If citydesk lived at Boise Weekly, which sometimes seems to be the case, we'd be voting at the First Baptist Church on 13th and Washington. That's according to the city's new interactive polling place locator.

Just put in your address (house number and street go in different fields), and it spits out a Google Map, complete with directions to your polling place.

Check it out, especially if you live in one of the notorious consolidated precincts.

Note: Google still will not tell you whom to vote for. That is a job for ... Electionland!

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Final Boise Bike Recs Out

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2009 at 2:41 PM

The City of Boise is out with a final draft of its bike safety recommendations, after studying the issue all summer. The recommendations are largely the same as in the previous draft, which was presented to the public and available for public comment in August.

One important debate since the Bike Safety Task Force took its recommendation public is the retention of a "when possible" clause to the three-feet-to-pass ordinance. The summary of the report notes that this was a controversial addition, taking some teeth out of the proposed ordinance, but that it was necessary to make the law relevant on narrow city streets. Some cyclists maintained that if there is not three feet available on a particular street, motorists should wait to pass, said Michael Zuzel, a Task Force member representing the Mayor's Office.

"That will be one of the issues that's discussed most by the Council if and when this finally comes to them in the form of an ordinance," Zuzel said.

The Task Force will present the report to the City Council on Tuesday at noon, at City Hall. The City Council will then decide which of the 24 recommendations to implement, and how to pay for them. The recommendations fall into several categories, including new city ordinances, like three-feet-to-pass, an anti-harassment of cyclists law and a reckless cycling law. The are also education initiatives and reccomendations to prioritize certain street engineering projects—widening and bike lanes—to be coordinated with ACHD.

The public also shared some interest in anti-texting or cell phoning while driving regs, but the Task Force preferred to leave that up to the state; the Legislature may consider an anti-texting rule this winter.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Soakers Steamed Over Hot Pool Reclamation

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 10:02 AM

Many SW Idaho hot springs enthusiasts are upset that the Forest Service is removing a series of cascading pools that a yet unnamed man built at Rocky Canyon Hot Springs near Crouch.

The Forest Service and the Sho-Pai assert that the rock and mortar pools were built illegally and need to go.

Hot springers on a Yahoo! Idaho outdoor listserv and this guy are making calls to try to stop the imminent reclamation of the slope down to the Middle Fork of the Payette.

Channel 7 had a report on Wednesday, followed by the Statesman today:

"Those (hot springs) are still sacred to us - the tribes are a living culture, and we are still protective of our culture ... What we prefer is to leave it in its natural state. Nobody is saying (people) can't go and enjoy themselves at the hot spring. Just leave it natural. It's a spiritually significant site." — Ted Howard, Shoshone-Paiute cultural resources director, Duck Valley

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Luke's, Al's Restrict Visitors to Keep Swine at Bay

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2009 at 10:00 AM

St. Luke's and St. Al's announced jointly this morning that they are tightening up hospital visitor regs, in an effort to keep the swine flu at bay.

Besides the fact that it's nice to see the two singing the same tune on this "epidemic" for once, here's the real message: If you have the flu, do not go to the hospital.

Here's the official rules:

· No sick visitors. If you are ill please stay home.

· No visitors under 14.¬†Only family members or friends who are 14 or older should visit a patient in the hospital or accompany a patient to the emergency department.

· Only two visitors at a time. This applies to visitors to inpatient rooms and to those accompanying someone to the emergency department.

Also, NICU (neonatal intensive care) visitation will be limited to only parents and grandparents of NICU patients, PICU (pediatric intensive care) and pediatric units visitation will be limited to those who are over 18 and immediate family members such as parents (including parents under 18) and grandparents, and Antepartum, Labor and Deliver and Mother Baby Units visitation will be limited to spouses/ labor support person/legal guardians, grandparents and siblings of the new baby only; no other young children.

The hospitals normally implement flu restrictions for visitors in December but are doing it early this year since everyone we know has swine flu.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Litster Certified for Streetcar Petition Drive

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 9:56 PM

The city, earlier today, rejected nearly a third of the signatures—7 out of 23—that Boise City Council candidate Dave Litster needed to certify his petition for an initiative drive on the streetcar.

But Litster resubmitted the petition, and according to a release from his campaign, the city certified the document late today. Most of BW was eating pizza at the time.

That means Litster can now begin collecting the 6,500 or so signatures he needs to get the initiative on the ballot during a regular election date next year.

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Litster Fails to Gather Enough Valid Signatures

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 8:37 PM

Last time I called the Boise City Clerk’s office, I was informed that my blocky, black scrawl on a Public Records Request form was, to quote the perky receptionist, “illegible.” They were a nice bunch, though, and they eventually helped this befuddled reporter through the hoops.

Today, when I called Deputy City Clerk Wendy Burrows-Johnson, I got another lesson in the importance of properly completed paperwork, but at least this time it wasn’t my mistake.

City Council candidate David Litster’s recent promise of a petition calling for a public vote on the proposed streetcar was fulfilled yesterday. At least, Litster, who has made denouncing the streetcar a pillar of his campaign, submitted the initial paperwork.

“I am filing this proposed initiative petition language, as required by city code, because current law allows only three council members plus Mayor [Dave] Bieter to impose on the taxpayers a tiny trolley and a $20 million tax bill,” stated Litster in his Oct. 15 press release.

Burrows-Johnson said that while Litster had more than the necessary 20 signatures needed for the preliminary petition, some of them were not valid. Article 1, Chapter 22 of Boise City code states that anyone who signs an initiative petition must be a registered voter within the district. When the clerk’s office receives a petition, they run through a list of voters to verify names.

“He only had 16 valid signatures of the necessary 20. He had 23 on there total,” Burrows-Johnson told BW.

She went on to discuss the necessary steps taken to rectify the petition, which include resubmitting the signatures. Once Litster does that, he’ll have 75 days to get, and verify, the remaining 6,440 signatures needed to get the petition in front of City Council.

TJ Thomson, Litster’s sole opponent, said he’d be happy to sign Litster’s petition should he come to Thomson’s doorstep.

“Yes. I will be the first signature on the list,” Thomson said.

And does Litster want his signature?

“We’d be happy to have him on board,” Litster said.

He’s pragmatic about the city’s rejection of his initial petition.

“That often happens with these things,” Litster said. “You know, you go out and ask people, ‘you’re registered to vote,' right?’”

Of course, since the names of registered voters are public record, Litster could have verified the names himself before turning them in.

“We’re gettin’ another one turned in today,” Litster added.

The rejection from the city came as Litster also announced a slate of new endorsements, that of all of the Ada County Commissioners, Fred Tillman, Rick Yzaguirre and Sharon Ullman; as well as five local members of the Idaho Legislature; Max Black, Cliff Bayer, Russ Fulcher, Raul Labrador and Mike Moyle.

Black, chairman of the House Business Committee, summed up the announcement:

“I speak for every member in the group in saying that Dave Litster has our strong support for Seat 4 on the Boise City Council. Dave understands first-hand both the pressures of raising a family and the day-to-day challenges facing private enterprise. We need more, not less, of that expe rience on the Boise City Council.”

Thomson has racked up a lengthy list of endorsements himself in recent months.

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Spring-Assisted Still Not a Switchblade

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 2:39 PM

There’s a fine line between a switchblade and a spring-assisted knife, but now that line is federally approved.

The House of Representatives approved a report last week that prevents the Department of Homeland Security from classifying spring-assisted knives as switchblades—which are illegal in some states. The difference if a fine one, since switchblade users push a button on the handle to release a spring-loaded blade, and spring-assisted knife owners use a flick of their thumb to release a spring-loaded blade.

While it may seem like a minor issue, it’s one that was championed by Rep. Walt Minnick, who actually proved his point that spring-assisted knives are widely used by law-abiding citizens by pulling out just such a knife during congressional testimony on the issue.

“Like most Idahoans, I carry a pocketknife,” Minnick said in a press release. “That shouldn’t make me a criminal. Passage of this bill means that the kinds of knives we use while rafting Idaho rivers or fishing its streams or hunting its mountains, or even just to open a stubborn package at the office, will remain legal and free of regulation.”

The vote not only comes down on the side of outdoorsmen, but for at least one big business in Minnick’s district. Buck Knives, one of the most well-known knife manufactures in the country, is located in Post Falls.

The move also earned the approval of one group that came down against Minnick in the general election, the National Rifle Association.

“The National Rifle Association would like to thank Congressman Minnick, whose leadership helped fix a provision that would have criminalized millions of law-abiding Americans—including many hunters and sportsmen in Idaho,” said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist, in a press release.

Of course, a certain BW staffer will stick with the switchblade she keeps in her purse. This is Idaho after all.

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