Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BW street van

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 8:21 PM

The Boise Weekly van got more street this week. Our resident drawer, Adam Rosenlund, who also designed the citydesk logo that now graces the top of this blog, went and painted the truck.

Well, he didn't paint it himself, but the citified imagery that now graces the sides of our big old delivery truck comes out of Adam's brain.

As you can see, the Boise Weekly is delivering peace and goodwill throughout the land; our very sheaves of newsprint take flight weekly bringing joy and merriment to all the poor suckers that can't even afford to buy a paper.

That's how I see it at least. But then again, they don't let me write art reviews for good reason.

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This week in BW

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 8:09 PM

This week's news section continues our itinerant series on the economy.

That's right, we are in the midst of a series on the economy that is so deep we decided there was no reason to let folks know it's a series. It started on Nov. 12 with Tim Andreae's story about farm economist/visionary Ben Gisin.

This week I follow up with a story that I thought would run weeks ago but proved somewhat frustrating to nail down. If you've been paying any attention to the news lately you've seen countless stories about the high unemployment rate. I was not satisfied with the explanations given for growing unemployment, so I set out to find some more specific answers, but met with nearly unanimous agreement that a bad "business cycle" which is a result of the mortgage crisis was to blame. I still think that's a short-sighted view, but am not sure if I got that many new answers. You can decide.

Watch for more unpredictable business reporting in future issues.

We are also trying to watch what happens with the large number of planned communities, uh, planned, for the Boise Valley. Which, by the way, is one of those euphemisms that prove tricky for journalists. If anyone can come up with a more accurate and fair description of planned communities for Ada County, by all means leave a comment below. ("Treasure Valley" is another one of those euphemisms that I can't always just write around!)

In the arts section, Tara Morgan reviews Lauren Weedman's one woman coming-of-middle-age show No ... You Shutup:
Weedman's new comedy is a gut-clutchingly frank, partially autobiographical journey that winds through a gynecologist's office, a gay gym and a funeral parlour in the eight days before Mother's Day, as Weedman comes to terms with those two, ofeten inseperable F-words: Failure and family.
And Deanna Darr forecasts an inconclusive winter season: "If [the forecast] is good, we brag on it. If it's bad, we don't pay attention to it," says Bogus Basin spokesperson Gretchen Anderson.

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The census is coming, the census is coming

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2008 at 4:22 PM

Census Bureau Regional Director Ralph Lee, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Mexican Consul to Idaho-Montana Ricardo Pineda and Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs chairman Juan Álvarez, from left to right.

It's gonna be census time again. The U.S. Census Bureau already has an office in Boise and state officials are officially on board for the 2010 count

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa read a proclamation this afternoon, prepared by the Census bureau and signed by the governor. It pledges state help to promote an accurate head count in 2010.

U.S. Census Bureau officials descended on Boise today to launch their  build-up to the 2010 census. The event, at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in downtown Boise, was organized by the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

It featured the best hot chocolate citydesk has had all "winter" (is it even winter yet?)

The lead state agency getting on board with the Census Bureau appears to be the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs (which provided the chocolate). The commission is focusing on reaching out to minority communities across the state through newly formed coalition.

"The problem with a lot of Hispanics is reaching them," said Juan Álvarez, chairman of the Hispanic Commission.

Hispanics, blacks and American Indians have historically been undercounted in the decennial census. Ralph Lee, regional director for the Bureau, said the undercount was particularly pronounced in 1990, but somewhat better in 2000.

White and Asians have often been overcounted, Lee added.

Lee announced that the Census Bureau has opened up an Idaho office at 8455 W. Emerald St., and will eventually hire 1,400 people in Idaho. An East Idaho office will open in October 2009. (Just call 1-877-471-5432 for job information.)

Read more in Wednesday's Boise Weekly...

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Thursday, November 20, 2008


Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 5:23 PM

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Register your ride with the man

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2008 at 10:42 AM

It's not a ring, but Boise Police suspect that a few thieves are out there stealing expensive bikes and then pawning them.

210 bikes have been reported stolen to BPD since August, more than twice as many as in the same period last year. And the figures do not include the many bikes that are stolen and never reported.

Boise cops arrested a man Tuesday they suspect attempted to pawn a bicycle that had been reported stolen from the Boise State campus library. The same man, Carl Alexander, 46, is charged with pawning another bike stolen last week from the Downtown YMCA that is valued at $1,400. Police do not believe Alexander stole the bikes, but suspect he is connected to the thieves.

The number of high-priced two-wheel rides being stolen in Boise has caught the attention of BPD, causing the department to stick Det. Jeff Dustin on the bike beat.

“Some of the bike thefts do appear to be several individuals committing the crime repeatedly,” said BPD spokeswoman Lynn Hightower. “There’s a lot of people in boise who invest a lot of money in their bike”

The number of bike thefts reported on the Boise State campus has doubled to 30 since the same Aug. 1 to Nov. 10 period last year, Hightower said.

Boise police remind cyclists to lock up and to register their bike's serial number (or bikes' serial numbers) with the cop shop. Register your ride with the man here.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter heating assistance

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 5:04 PM

Idaho is the beneficiary of millions of dollars in federal block grants to help low-income people pay to heat their homes this winter. The Congress passed $5.1 billion in funding to the states for winter heating assistance, most of which goes as direct payments to utility companies to offset heating bills.

You can read about the grants in this week's BW, which hits stands tomorrow. Information on who qualifies for the program is available through the Idaho Community Action Partnership, but a small chart below details income guidelines.

More information on LIHEAP is available here. Call 208-322-1242 in Ada County to make an appointment to apply for assistance

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Boycott H8 List Launched

Posted By on Mon, Nov 17, 2008 at 4:31 PM

This may not be the Golden State, though a majority of Idahoans may have voted for a Constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2006, but none of that is stopping some members of the state's LGBT community from having their say on the issue.

Pridedepot.com's Jody May-Chang is working long hours to compile Boycott H8, (as in "hate") a list of Idaho businesses and individuals that financially supported the passage of Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in California. At a gay-rights rally in front of City Hall that coincided with national demonstrations last weekend, May-Chang distributed the list to those in the crowd.

At the top of the list is a name gay rights activists are used to seeing: Vandersloot. According to May-Chang's list, Belinda Vandersloot, the wife of businessman Frank Vandersloot who runs the health care product company Melaleuca in Idaho Falls, contributed $100,000 to the California YES on Proposition 8 campaign.

The bottom of the list dwindles down to contributions of a mere $50, with close to 150 businesses and individuals in total named from Boise to Burley and Rexburg to Rupert.

"It's labor intensive to make sure they're accurate," said May-Chang. "I'm cross referencing between information from California's Secretary of State and Idaho's Secretary of State's records."

In addition to the Idaho list, May-Chang is compiling similar lists for Utah and a nationwide boycott using information available through public records.

A complete list can be found at pridedepot.com, where May-Chang has urged visitors that the list "is NOT to be used in ANY way to harass or otherwise harm anyone in any way or for any form of solicitation."

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Friday, November 14, 2008

FTA reaffirms Buy American on locomotive bids

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 3:27 PM

The U.S. Department of Transportation's transit arm has denied a request from Boston's T to allow two pilot locomotives to be built across the pond.

A Boise company had bid against a German-Spanish firm for the large contract. The foreign firm wanted to assemble the first two locomotives in the 28-car order overseas, in violation of the Federal Transit Administration's "Buy America" requirements.

But the FTA, in a letter to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority general manager Daniel A. Grabauskas, denied a waiver of the protectionist provisions for federal funding of transit projects.

"Absent factors like safety or the introduction of significant new technology, FTA has consistently denied public interest waiver requests predicated on a cost saving of less than 25 percent," FTA Deputy Administrator Sherry E. Little wrote.

MBTA flak Joe Pesaturo told citydesk in an email that the FTA letter is still being reviewed: "Our procurement team will meet on Monday to discuss the MBTA's options, and decide what future course of action is in the best interest of the Authority, fare-payers, and Massachusetts taxpayers."

Asked whether the decision takes Vossloh España S.A. out of the running for the contract, Pesaturo repeated himself in classic Masshole e-mail form: "Our procurement team will meet on Monday to discuss the MBTA's options,and decide what future course of action is in the best interest of the Authority, fare-payers, and Massachusetts taxpayers."

The other company, Boise-based MotivePower, drew support from two members of Idaho's congressional delegation and from Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

“It would be a travesty to use American taxpayer dollars and a loophole in American law to allow this sophisticated technology and the jobs related to it to be lost to overseas competitors. We are pleased with the FTA’s ruling,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo stated.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

State workers protest benefit changes

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 4:57 PM

About 30 people—mostly state workers—took time off this morning to attend a hearing on cuts to their benefit package that went into effect prior to legislative review.

Workers demanded the hearing after the state Division of Human Resources, in late August, implemented temporary rule changes that cut the amount of time allowed for short-term disability leave and eliminated paid time off for doctor visits, among dozens of smaller changes.

Selma Gearhardt, pictured above, a pharmacy specialist at Idaho’s Medicaid program, testified that she counsels people all day to go to their preventative doctor and dental visits in order to catch disease early. But then the state takes away a benefit that encourages state workers to do the same.

“Restore effective health care policy that supports the benefit of prevention. Recognize what we have always known: ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” Gearhardt said in her written testimony.

DHR director Judie Wright arranged the hearing after more than 25 workers demanded it.(The state received petitions from at least 200 employees, according to testimony from the state workers' union). Wright said the testimony will be reviewed and any changes will be reported in about a week and a half.

The Idaho Association of Government Employees, the state workers' union, protested the timing of the hearing—10 a.m. on a Monday morning, but Wright said that was the time that the court reporter was available.

“We didn’t have very long to get it done,” Wright said. “We’re supposed to have our comments done by the 14th.”

No one testified in favor of the rule changes at the Monday hearing. The legislature will review the rules starting in January and legislation to authorize paid leave for preventive doctors visits has already been discussed.

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Crapo's Obama inauguration hub

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 1:15 PM

We at citydesk were just wondering how to apply for press credentials for the Obama inauguration in the off chance BW wants to send us to that *historic* event, when an e-mail from Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R-, uh, Idaho) popped in the inbox, reading:

Yes, Crapo, soon-to-be-Idaho's senior senator, has a clearinghouse for inauguration information on his Web site including ticket info, parade info, ball info, and even, you guessed it, press pass info.

There are also links for fun things for Idahoans to do in *Warshington*, D.C.

Thanks Senator ... is this a spirit of bi-partisan cooperation we are smelling?

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