Friday, October 29, 2010

Something to Consider As You Empty Your Beer and Wine Bottles This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 5:59 PM

Have you heard about Boise's mountain of glass?

Have you seen it?

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You can read about how it got so big here.

And you can see it for yourself here.

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Cagle Columnist Slams Idaho

Posted By on Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Here's one that might sting you a bit: would you call Burley, a desolate wasteland of Republican economic policies? This article from The Cagle Post, an Internet cartoonist and criticism website, suggests that Burley is a shit-hole. Literally.

Granted, it's not the biggest of towns, and ranks low on population—even in Idaho—but would you make the claim that small town, USA are misled flocks of "sheeple" blindly voting against their better interests?

Tina Dupuy's article is essentially a manifesto for voting liberal in the midterm elections—and claims Burley smells like dog feces. She writes that the reason the town is such a dump is the same one behind the bigger economic collapse in this country.

Burley is a town of less than 10,000 residents whose median annual income is $27,981, far below the state or national average. The center of Burley is a Walmart. Across the street is a Rent-a-Center, which is next door to a Check Cashing place. These three establishments are the jewels of capitalism.

Dupuy goes on to describe the mega-chain stores:

Walmart’s bottom line is always the bottom line. Profit trumps all at the giant box store to end all box stores. Walmart’s wages are so low you can only afford to shop at Walmart. A modern homage to sharecropping. Rent-a-Center allows their customers to pay high prices for low-quality appliances and furniture in turn for monthly payments. Check Cashing places—providing payday loans and charging outrageous amounts for emergency lending—are parasites of poverty.

Dupuy is essentially arguing that because of the corporate sector, Middle America has been squeezed dry by profit barons. Walmart drives out all other business, leaving only one place to work and shop, and making job mobility impossible. She also argues that with only one place to work and low wages because of the void of competition, the Rent-A-Center lets people put the appliances they can't afford in their homes, but leaves them tied to the business in a losing deal. As for the Check Cashing places? She says, sure, they'll give you a loan when you can't make your mortgage payment, but you're essentially mortgaging your soul to them.

The counter argument is that these businesses represent the free market, people are making these choices and businesses should be rewarded with growth.

She dips into Idaho government in her article, as well. She equates the smell of the town with a possible source, and cites a New York Times Freedom of Information request (NYT's report can be viewed here) reporting that the City of Burley has been cited for EPA violations 285 times, and has been deficient 12 out of 12 quarters when the report was published in 2008. She chocks that up to the pig farms scattered outside of town. Dupuy questions the establishment in the Gem State, considering that water and air quality are reviewed by Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Agriculture, and siting is determined by the counties.

Dupuy claims the "cut taxes no matter what", and "do away with regulation" rhetoric of the GOP is responsible for the 2008 economic meltdown, claiming that government ceded power to Wall Street and the banks, who left the economy a dried-out husk. Now, she claims, the backlash against government—a la the Tea Party—is a natural response, but that it's internalizing the problem.

It’s understandable—Americans are mad at the government for not working for us—now we want the government to go away. Get drowned in a bathtub. More government? Freer business? Each feels like putting a hot compress on a burn at this point.

The fact is we have a choice in the midterms between profiteers or bureaucrats. And all things being equal—at least the bureaucrats are accountable to “we the people.”

So is Idaho a tax-light business oasis, or a cesspool of squeezed-dry consumers?

Read all of Dupuy's opinions here.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Minnick and Labrador Go to Blows

Posted By on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Earlier today First Congressional District contenders Democratic incumbent Rep. Walt Minnick and Republican challenger Raul Labrador took the stage at City Club. And if you weren't in the room, Citydesk highly recommends tuning in to the broadcast on Boise State Public Radio on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. Trust us, the spectacle is worth postponing your Saturday night outing for an hour.

In a scene reminiscent of the infamous boardroom on Donald Trump's reality TV show The Apprentice, both candidates took the scrappy route, barbing one another so often that as the session wore on, the audience's exasperation was collective, audible displeasure.

In his opening remarks, Minnick started simply: "Our country is in trouble." He went on to touch on unemployment, home foreclosures and the deficit before Labrador opened his remarks by introducing his wife to the room and promptly moving on to unemployment as well.

Audience questions guided the discussion, and the first question out of the gate tackled the issue that's been at the forefront most recently: the candidates' TV ads.

The questioner wrote that each candidate had been running "appallingly negative ads" and demanded an explanation from both candidates. Minnick said "not a single fact" was incorrect in any of his ads and followed up with his opinion that facts speak louder than words. Labrador countered that Minnick "should be ashamed of himself" and cited a story from KTVB that reported inaccuracies in a Minnick ad.

And thus began a tit-for-tat that at times had candidates interrupting one another, insulting one another (more than once Labrador claimed that Minnick had no idea what was even going on in the campaign), and generally attacking one another.

With all the bickering, you'd expect the candidates to clash vehemently on every issue. Not so. They both agree that earmarks should be ended, entitlements cut and the border sealed.

Minnick positioned himself as a centrist more than once, saying he's the most independent voter in the House and painting Labrador as a fringe candidate who would end the Fed, deny abortion in the case of rape or incest, support a sound money system and repeal the 17th Amendment—all are principles of the Idaho GOP's newly adopted platform. In his defense, Labrador said those beliefs were mainstream, rather than fringe.

Perhaps the best question to be put to each candidate came from a student who noted the candidates' insistence on focusing on personal attacks rather than the actual issues. (And yes, that got the biggest applause of the day.) The questioner said: "Tell me why I should vote for you."

To that, Minnick said because he can put people to work and he can work "from the middle." Labrador's answer pointed to his experience in the State Legislature and his reputation as a "do-er" rather than a "talker." Priority numero uno for Minnick: jobs. For Labrador: immigration reform.

And the one last thing the two candidates have in common: They each think they're the best person to represent Idaho's First Congressional District. But that, voters, is for you to decide.

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First CD Candidates at City Club Today

Posted By on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 8:23 AM

Things are getting ugly in the First Congressional District with Rep. Walt Minnick and Republican challenger Raul Labrador almost dead even. The latest Mason-Dixon poll has Minnick with a mere three-point lead and Tuesday, KTVB announced that it had pulled a Labrador ad falsely claiming Minnick vote for the Stimulus Act.

The two candidates will take the stage at City Club of Boise in a final push to close—or widen—that three-point gap with a final few votes. Check back this afternoon for an update.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Welcome to the New Western Gateway of Boise State"

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Officials from Boise State University and Micron Technology upper crust gathered Tuesday to announce a major upgrade to the Boise skyline. At the intersection of Capitol Boulevard and University Drive, the dilapidated University Inn will be torn down to make way for the new Micron Business and Economics Building. The four-story, near-120,0000-square-foot structure will be the largest construction project underway on the Western half of the campus.

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With two mammoth cement trucks turning idly in the background, their drums proudly painted with Bronco football players, Boise State President Bob Kustra, Vice President of University Advancement Howard Smith, and Micron CEO Steve Appleton spoke about the project-over 10 years in the making.

In 2007, Micron committed a $12.5 million lead-gift for the project, with $5 million contingent on the school finding matching funds by the end of 2009. And find it they did, in the open wallets of more than 1,000 contributors around the community

“Micron greatly values its strong educational relationship with Boise State University,” said Micron CEO Steve Appleton. He acknowledged the project succeeded “despite Micron’s trails and tribulations and despite some media saying that we wouldn’t be here today.”

The new facility will boast cutting edge, tech-centered classrooms, a 250-seat lecture hall, a tree-lined courtyard area, a student commons area with food service, student work spaces, a financial technology workroom and simulated trading room, as well as an interactive billboard to support collaboration.

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“This building is an essential part of Boise State’s mission to educate tomorrow’s leaders, bolster the success of Idaho businesses and advance entrepreneurial thinking,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “Welcome to the new Western gateway of Boise State University.”

His demeanor wasn’t entirely jovial, though. Increasingly outspoken, Kustra reminded everybody about who wasn’t at the ribbon-cutting: a representative from the State of Idaho.

“There’s a new business model for higher education in this country,” said Kustra. “State governments are leaving that charge of higher education. It leaves Boise State to come up with the rest of that money...half of the funding of this building will come from the students.”

“This will be the first [BSU] building that will go up without state appropriation,” Kustra remarked.

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Mother of Accused Soldier Tells CNN, "He Was Not My Son"

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 9:13 AM

In a report to air this afternoon on CNN, the mother of a Boise soldier said, "I threatened to break his leg and keep him home," shortly before he returned to Afghanistan where he was charged with killing civilians for sport.

Dana Holmes, the mother of Pfc. Andrew Holmes said her son was a healthy 185-pound, 18-year-old when he joined the Army. But when he returned to Boise for a visit two years later, "he was not my son."

"He'd lost about 50 pounds. I made him his favorite sandwich, and it took him two days to eat the whole sandwich," said Mrs. Holmes. "He didn't eat. He didn't sleep." Holme's family had him hospitalized in Idaho during his leave to restore his strength.

Holmes told CNN's Drew Griffin that "not only should the Army have known something had gone dreadfully wrong, but commanding officers should be held responsible."

Holmes and four other members of Bravo company, Second Battalion, First Infantry Regiment, Fifth Brigade face charges of premeditated murder, possessing body parts and possessing photos of corpses. Seven others in the platoon are charged with various other crimes.

Holmes and the others are being held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, to await court martial.

You can watch the full report Tuesday at 3 p.m. on CNN.

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20 Mega-Loads Now Sit at Port of Lewiston

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 9:10 AM

The Idaho Supreme Court hasn't even ruled on whether four ConocoPhillips mega-loads can be transported across Central Idaho, yet ExxonMobil continues to ship more of its massive oil modules to the Port of Lewiston.

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Eight more T-Rex-sized, Korean-made loads arrived at the Port of Lewiston Sunday, bringing the number of modules parked along the banks of the Clearwater to 16. ExxonMobil wants to truck its mega-loads across U.S. Highway 12, into Montana and up to the Kearl Oil Sands project in Alberta, Canada.

If given the green light, the Conoco loads would be driven to the oil giant's Billings, Mont., refinery.

Officials at the Port of Lewiston told Citydesk they expect up to 40 ExxonMobil modules to arrive by December. That's when the Snake and Columbia river system will be closed for 14 weeks of repairs to the lock system that connects Idaho to the Pacific Ocean.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

More Gas Drilling in Payette

Posted By on Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 4:49 PM

They're drilling again in Payette County.

Earlier this year, Canadian-based Bridge Resources drilled on private land in and around Payette with some success.

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"It's a million cubic feet a day, and it's sweet gas," trumpeted Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. "And it will go right into the [commercial production] line."

After drilling five exploratory wells in the spring, Bridge hit three successful discoveries. They asked for, and received, permission to drill five more from the Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission in July.

Now, Bridge has received permission to sink 10 more wells in Payette. Drilling began this week on a 6,000-acre site called the Willow site, north of Payette. More drilling is expected on a 36,000-acre parcel known as the Hamelton site.

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Boise State Adjuncts Face Proposed Restrictions

Posted By on Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Big potential changes are on the horizon for adjunct professors at Boise State, according to interdepartmental communications obtained by BW. On Tuesday, Oct. 26, the faculty senate will consider a proposal to limit to 19 the total number of credits that part-time faculty can teach in a 12-month period. That means adjunct professors will only be able to teach 6 classes over the course of a year, including Extended Studies summer courses. For some adjuncts, who currently teach around 21 credits during the school year and between 3 to 9 credits over the summer, that could mean a dramatic pay reduction.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of full-time faculty members teaching at post-secondary degree-granting institutions dropped from 77.9 percent in 1970 to 51.3 percent in 2007. The number of part-time, or adjunct professors, has continued to grow because institutions can pay them substantially less than tenured or tenure-track professors, and the universities don’t generally pay for insurance.

Faculty members at Boise State have expressed concerns through internal communications that this proposal might force long-term adjuncts to seek employment at other universities or take non-academic, part-time positions in the community. This carries the risk of greatly diminishing the level of academic commitment and focus from adjunct professors at Boise State. There are also financial concerns that this proposal will require additional part-time staff to be hired, trained, mentored and provided with office space, which could increase overall expenditures or lead to some courses being understaffed.

Check back with citydesk for updates as this story unfolds.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hispanic Caucus Endorses Allred, Olson

Posted By on Sat, Oct 23, 2010 at 5:39 PM

In what could become a key endorsement, the Idaho Hispanic Caucus told Citydesk that it decided to throw its support to Democrat Keith Allred in his effort to unseat Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter. The caucus also endorsed Democrat Stan Olson over Republican State School Superintendent Tom Luna.

Of Canyon County's estimated 186,000 residents, Idaho's Dept. of Labor reports 21.5 percent are Hispanic, a 62 percent leap since 2000. It's estimated that 165,000 Hispanics call Idaho home.

"We support Allred because of his deep involvement with the Latino population," caucus director Alex Zamora told Citydesk.

"The superintendent's race was a tough call," said Zamora. "But in the end, we chose Olson based on his history of helping minorities, refugees and marginalized populations."

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