Boise City Council Will Take Up Issues Ranging From Child Care to Attempted Suicide in Tuesday's Meeting

by

When the Boise City Council gavels into session this coming Tuesday, Sept. 30, they'll take up two ordinances that consider, quite literally, life and death.

A brief but startling item on this week's agenda involves Boise City Code Title 6, Chapter 1, Section 14 that makes attempted suicide a crime.

But Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson says the ordinance needs to be repealed because it's outdated and doesn't ensure the proper treatment of the mentally ill.

"Attempted suicide is a human tragedy that when criminalized can cause further harm by creating a stigma that may preclude a mentally ill person from seeking help," wrote Masterson to council members. "The City Code is not necessary. Additionally, the Boise Police Department has formed several community partnerships to appropriately respond to those in crisis, which has led to more expeditious treatment and cost sharing among involved agencies."

The proposed repeal will be read for the first time this Tuesday, which means that it will need two more formal readings at future council meetings before it becomes official.

But another very different ordinance that dramatically changes the way Boise child care licensees will operate is up for its third reading and expected passage this week.

Boise Weekly readers learned the details of the Healthy Child Care Initiative in early September (BW, News, "This is My Baby Now," Sept. 3, 2014), which has been shepherded by Boise Councilman TJ Thomson.

"We've watched childhood obesity become an epidemic—a 30 percent increase in as many years. Over half of all kids that are currently overweight were overweight by age 2," Thomson told BW. "Healthy initiatives are my top priority; I've been trying to figure out the right way to approach this."

The ordinance limits screen (TV) time at child care facilities, improves nutritional guidelines and adjusts staffing levels.

The current child-to-worker ratios are 6-1 for newborns to 2-year-olds, 8-1 for 2-year-olds, 10-1 for 3-year-olds, 12-1 for 4- and 5-year-olds, and 12-1 for 5-year-olds and older (the state ratio is a whopping 24-1 for 5-year-olds and older). The proposed Boise rules would shrink those ratios to 5-1 for newborns to 2-year-olds, 6-1 for 2-year-olds, 10-1 for 3- and 4-year-olds, and 12-1 for 5-year-olds and older.

And Boise is in a unique position to make the adjustments. Boise is the only Treasure Valley community that licenses child care facilities. The only other Idaho cities that do the same are Ammon, Chubbuck, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Moscow and Pocatello.

"All other cities in Ada and Canyon counties have to rely on state licensing," said Thomson. "But right now, we're doing nothing as a state to turn this ship around. If we don't do it, it's not going to happen."

And that "ship" is foundering. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Idaho ranks dead last in the nation—52nd, behind even Guam and Puerto Rico—when it comes to state rankings for healthy eating and physical activity regulations.

"We have an 'F,'" said Thomson.