'Tis the season for lawsuits. The City of Boise was sued again on Nov. 13, this time by Gerald Amidon, the man who was repeatedly shocked by a Boise Police officer's Taser, including on his genitals, on Valentine's Day.
Amidon was initially charged with three crimes, but all charges were dropped. Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson told BW in July that the officer who deployed the Taser displayed "conduct unbecoming of an officer."
Amidon filed a brutality claim in July, and the city never responded, so he filed a federal action earlier this month, claiming violation of his Fourth Amendment rights to protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
A response is due from the city in the next few weeks.
The City of Boise filed a response last week in another federal lawsuit, this one brought by seven homeless people. They accuse the Boise Police Department of violating the cruel and unusual punishment and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution by arresting them for sleeping outside, when they have nowhere else to sleep.
In Boise's 10-page response, assistant city attorney Scott Muir denies any wrongdoing or constitutional violations by the BPD and details some of the arrests cited by the plaintiffs. Muir said the merits of the lawsuit would be argued in further motions, after discovery begins.
And a lawsuit against the state is proceeding as well, but first this news.
The Idaho Transportation Board selected Brian Ness, a regional engineer in the Michigan Department of Transportation's northern region, to head up the Idaho Transportation Department. Ness has a master's degree in public administration and worked with MDOT--a $3-billion agency, compared to Idaho's $500-million budget--for 30 years.
"Ness possesses the professional background, leadership skills and energy to make an immediate impact on transportation in Idaho," stated ITD Board Chairman Darrell V. Manning in the ITD press release. "We know that his degree in public administration coupled with his transportation background will serve him well in effectively leading the transportation department."
There is one potential problem for Ness, though: former ITD Director Pam Lowe still wants her job back.
Lowe, who threatened a lawsuit in August, filed suit a few weeks ago and added six more counts to her complaint last week, according to the Spokesman-Review.
She alleges sex discrimination by the ITD board, for which she told the Spokesman's Betsy Russell, she has proof that will emerge at trial. But she also alleges cronyism, corruption and political favors all the way up to the Governor's Office that thwarted her efforts to do her job. As Russell reports: "Lowe contends that she was fired because she insisted on cutting back a $50-million contract with a politically well-connected contractor to manage a string of bond-funded highway projects, with Otter's then-chief of staff, Jeff Malmen, and Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning directly pressuring her to keep the big contract intact. Malmen hasn't responded to requests for comment; Manning has disputed Lowe's charges."
Some of Boise's homeless population did get some reprieve this month as the Boise Rescue Mission dedicated a new, 58-bed women's and children's shelter to accommodate the overflow they have seen all year at the City Light Home for Women and Children across the street.
The new shelter, called City Light Guest House, 1417 W. Jefferson, is in what was once a parking area for the apartments above. The Mission fully renovated the space with mostly donated labor and materials.
"Women with children have been the fastest growing population of homeless people over the past decade. With the economic situation as it is, we have seen that number rise even faster. For the past several months, we have had up to 46 women and kids sleeping on the floor at City Light. In order to be sure we can meet this growing need, and to better accommodate the women and kids we're serving, we are pleased to accomplish this project," said Mission director Bill Roscoe.
The Mission also installed 82 new beds at its men's shelter on 13th Street. All the new beds are a step toward filling the shortage of beds for homeless people in Boise, but the Mission is clearly not on board with those homeless folks who sued the BPD for harassment.
Roscoe effusively introduced Boise Police Chief Masterson at the ribbon cutting for the new shelter, calling BPD the "finest and most compassionate" police force. Masterson avoided the topic of the lawsuit altogether, talking about volunteering at the Mission and officers handing out meal tickets.
Speaking of meal tickets, the Idaho Statesman commissioned a Mason Dixon poll on the city's plan to install a downtown streetcar loop and found that 63 percent of Boise residents oppose the plan, with a 4 percent margin of error. Respondents also disagreed with Mayor Dave Bieter that a streetcar line will help with traffic congestion, spur development, improve the economy or catalyze further transportation options.
Incidentally, it was the second poll the paper commissioned, after BW raised questions about the methodology of the first poll, which found that 50.3 percent of Boise residents opposed the streetcar.