Boise Working Together

KLinGer opinion piece: Can the marriage between Boise and its citizens be saved?

Idaho Press

Like any good marriage, a city’s relationship with its people rests on trust and continual reaffirmation. Commitment between partners doesn’t end at the wedding chapel with the mutual exchange of “I do’s.” It just begins.

By this measure, the city of Boise’s marriage with its citizens merits immediate intervention, perhaps even serious marriage counseling.

Symptomatic of a civil union in distress have been the issues of a proposed downtown events center/library and stadium. These disputes have always been less about a library or a ball field, more about living within one’s means and an accountable and transparent way of doing the public’s business. Desirable goals must not be pursued through flawed, opaque, and imperfect means.

Spouse #1: Boise, the “striver city,” always something of the coy and starry-eyed ingenue, wooed by myriad growth industry suitors and the dazzle of a fancy bridal registry filled with pricey gifts.

Spouse #2: Boiseans, the increasingly stressed and growth-weary partners, already worried about the bills coming due once the honeymoon ends.

Their union will be tested in November, as we get the choice: either a city-sanctioned measure under which power over city-altering projects remains in the hands of city fathers, or citizen-initiated oversight in the form of occasional binding votes on major civic initiatives. In essence, “fickleness” versus “commitment.”

More than 5,000 Boise registered voters this spring said they wanted their vote over costly projects that touch their lives and re-make their community. They hadn’t been consulted. This November, they’ll get their say, courtesy of their fellow citizens, who spent their spring going door-to-door for signatures in a rare display of grassroots democracy.

It boils down to whether Boise’s rampant growth will perpetuate itself under old and murky ways of doing business, or whether major projects will get meaningful citizen scrutiny before taxpayer dollars are committed to refashioning a city’s public face for a century. Rather than bickering with its residents, a city that earns greater citizen endorsement and consent is likely to produce better projects and more favorable results.

Concurrently, the most useful poll Boise’s city government (increasingly enamored of online surveys and questionnaires lately) could now undertake would be a simple, one-question query of the 500 most recent emigres from Seattle, Portland, and the Bay area: “Why have you come here?”

The results might prove revealing. People naturally choose locations for many valid reasons — jobs, schooling, family commitments, retirement.

But I’d wager a substantial percentage of Boise’s newcomers are simply tired. Tired of the crowding and congestion, high taxes, crime, gridlock, skyrocketing housing prices, and the many abrasive aspects of contemporary life in those places that were, themselves, once highly-desirable destinations.

Equipped with such timely knowledge, Boise’s desire to follow in those cities’ footsteps, mimicking their mistakes, might be tempered.

The questions from voters this election cycle will undoubtedly be no-nonsense: why do taxes constantly rise … yet essential services like police staffing and fire coverage lag? Why is road construction relentless … while traffic never abates? Why do we live in “America’s Most Livable City” … yet we can’t afford the rent or get that first starter-home? Why should costly glamour projects take priority over the basic “meat-and-potatoes” functions any city government must master before chasing visions of grandeur?

What should we believe … the marketeers’ concocted spin, or our own “lyin’ eyes”?

The upcoming election promises to be one of the most consequential in Boise’s history. For every candidate for mayor and city council, though, one fundamental, unavoidable question lingers: in the increasingly fractious romance between a city and its citizens, can this marriage be saved?

David Klinger is the spokesman for Boise Working Together.

Letter to City Council

Boise City Council must hold a hearing within the 30 day allotted time period as required by Idaho law. We ask that the Council adopt the ballot initiatives as ordinances, so that we as a city can move forward to work together to plan projects that would be acceptable to the majority of Boise citizens. Letter posted here.

6-4-19 letter to council re initiative hearing 001.pdf

Thank you Boise!

Whether you signed the petition, got 1 or 100 signatures from your family, friends, and neighbors, if you shared our social media posts, or served on a strategy committee, our immense gratitude to you for your individual contribution to this community-wide effort! We couldn’t have done it - and especially in such a short time - without the help of hundreds of committed Boiseans. Thank you!! We we will now await the results as the county clerk does their due diligence reviewing the signatures.


May 30, 2019

"Today, David Levine, director of the Ada County Elections Division, notified us that his staff had verified 5,610 valid signatures for the stadium petition and 5,698 valid signatures for the Library petition. The number of valid signatures needed to meet the threshold for both petitions was 4,962.

Boise Working Together is gratified that the citizens of Boise have achieved the one thing we promised we would seek for them — an opportunity to be heard, in the form of a vote in November 2019 on two city-altering civic projects, the proposed downtown sports park and the proposed downtown events center/library. The many citizens who signed our petitions now have a better opportunity to more fully inform themselves about the benefits and the drawbacks, the costs and the impacts of these two projects, and then to vote any way they choose. A vote is their right.

“Everywhere, people told us they want to be involved in major city decisions affecting their lives and pocketbooks; they want transparency in city decision-making and they want clear explanations of where money will come from to pay for these projects. They share our trust in the wisdom of the people", said Adelia Simplot, chair of Boise Working Together.

We’re honored to have gotten it for them. Now, over the next five months, our fellow citizens must do their part, by fully educating themselves about the implications of the stadium and library projects before they vote this fall. Boise Working Together will be participating in this open analysis, but — as we have said all along — it is the right of Boise citizens to vote their conscience on the future of their city. Now, they have that right affirmed."

Boise Working Together - Board of Directors: Adelia Simplot, chair; Mark Baltes, John Bertram, Alex Jones, Dave Kangas, David Klinger, Richard Llewellyn, Ed McLuskie, Diane Ronayne.

A great city grows best when it grows … together.

We are Boise Working Together.

We are a volunteer group of citizens who believe that a great city and its future rest on maximum accountability from our city government … and meaningful involvement of citizens from all corners of Boise.

We reflect all ages, occupations, backgrounds, and viewpoints. We are your neighbors, co-workers, and friends. We are West Boise and Southeast Boise. We are North End and Boise Bench. We are Northwest Boise and East Boise.

And we are united in our belief that Boise needs a new approach in how it hears its citizens … spends their taxes … and charts the future of a great city.

Boise Working Together has asked for two ballot initiatives in 2019 that matter to you.

See KTVB's coverage here : KTVB Boise Working Together

See the Idaho Statesman's coverage here: ID Statesman Boise Working Together