State of the City: List of Accomplishments But Bieter Says 'We Need to Do More' 

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Part end-of-term report card, part political stump speech, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter delivered his 12th State of the City address Aug. 3, offering a laundry list of accomplishments and an equal list of challenges. 

The speech was dense with contents but was often rushed, included several awkward transitions and, on at least four occasions, the mayor insisted that it was morning in spite of the fact that the address had been moved to a late afternoon setting at the Egyptian Theatre.

Things didn't get off to a rousing start when Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce Chairman Kris Ormseth introduced the mayor with the enthusiasm usually reserved for a dental appointment.

But Bieter, in his usual style, opened the proceeding with some levity, recalling taking his high-school dates to the balcony of the Egyptian and boasting about a "brand new airline with an East Coast connection" that would make a suitable addition to the Boise Airport. That's when Bieter turned to the big screen of the Egyptian, where a photo showed Bieter stepping off of Air Force One with President Barack Obama this past January.

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  • Boise Weekly
"You didn't think I wouldn't talk about Air Force One, did you?" Bieter joked. 

The afternoon's biggest news did involve the Boise Airport and, in particular, Gowen Field's A-10 mission and its accompanying 1,000 employees linked to the Idaho Air National Guard.

"They no longer intend to to move the fighter wing from Gowen Field," said Bieter, to welcome applause. "But the key word is 'intention.' That still has to be formalized."

Bieter reminded the filled theater of the city's construction boom, saying, "Currently, between projects under way or in-development, there are three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of investment in Boise. That's 'b' as in billion. That's 'b' as in boggles-the-mind."

More than a few attendees were anxious to hear what Bieter might have to say about the sector of the city's population that lives in the shadows of that success—Boise's men, women and children who are homeless.

"You might have heard in the news lately of the city's court battle regarding our anti-camping ordinance. First of all, we don't cite anyone unless there is room available in the shelters. And we're happy to say that there's almost always room in our shelters," said Bieter. "That said, camping outside is unsafe, unhealthy and creates a whole lot of problems for the rest of us."

Bieter quickly added, "I'm confident we can take on the issue of homelessness."

The mayor said a special task force had been convened on the issue and met on four occasions.

"[E]verybody around that table agrees that we have to bring more facilities and more homes to the homeless. And we'll be excited to tell you about that in the coming year," the mayor said.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the event, was when Bieter made reference to a study that many had not heard before regarding Boise's less-than-stellar reputation for charitable giving.

"When we're compared to peer cities, we're in the lowest third when it comes to charitable giving," said Bieter. "We need to do more."

With that, Bieter announced the city would dial up its focus on the culture of giving, beginning with the fact that City Hall recently hired Chandra Ford to be the new director of philanthropy in the mayor's office.

Ford is the former assistant dean and director of development at the University of Idaho College of Business and Economics

"We have to build a culture where the expectations is, when you have success, you share that success," said Bieter. "We're not going to leave this to chance, and Chandra has agreed to help us in this effort."

Closing his address, Bieter led many of those in attendance to a post-speech celebration in Boise's Basque Block, using the opportunity to secure a few more votes for his reelection this November.


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