KLinGer opinion piece: Can the marriage between Boise and its citizens be saved?
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.
Boise Working Together to file third round of citizen petitions on sport stadium, events center/library projects on Tuesday April 30
Boise Working Together, the local, grassroots organization seeking greater engagement between city government and its citizens in the form of a public vote on the proposed downtown sport stadium and downtown events center/library, will file its third round of petitions with Boise city government tomorrow, Tuesday April 30.
Date: Tuesday April 30, 2019, 2 p.m. MDT
Location: Boise City Clerk’s Office, First Floor foyer, Boise City Hall, downtown Boise
Event contact/spokespersons: Adelia Simplot, President, Boise Working Together, and other representatives of the citizens organization who have been canvassing Boise neighborhoods in April and hearing directly from residents
This third filing will complete Boise Working Together’s series of filings of citizen signatures that began on April 17 and continued on April 23. To date, approximately 3,100 signatures of registered voters have each been filed regarding the events center/library and stadium projects, respectively. The required goal for ballot status in November 2019 would be 4,962 valid signatures for each of the two initiatives. That minimum number of qualified Boise citizens who are also registered voters represents 20 percent of the city residents who voted in the last municipal election for Boise City Council in 2017.
“Tomorrow we will announce the outcome of this experiment in local democracy in our effort to gain citizens a direct and meaningful vote on the future of our city. It comes in the form of an improved voice for citizens — and their informed consent -- on two projects that will fundamentally change this city and its downtown for the next century,” says David Klinger, spokesman for Boise Working Together.
Media contact: David Klinger, 208/994-8731
On APRIL 1st, you [WERE] invited to attend an "IT'S FOOLISH TO IGNORE THE PEOPLE" Fun-Raiser.
Please join with your fellow Boiseans who believe the process, transparency, and a public vote on big city projects is essential!
Money raised will help cover the basic costs of running a grassroots citizen's led initiative to give Boise voters a say about any library exceeding $25 million or stadium exceeding $5 million.
WE BELIEVE THAT OUR CITY GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE
• TRANSPARENT IN DECISION-MAKING
• FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE TO TAXPAYERS
• INVOLVING CITIZENS IN SHAPING BOISE
Petitions and yard signs will be available. Your suggested donation of $50 (or any amount) will help BOISE WORKING TOGETHER continue this critical work.
WHEN: Monday, April 1, from 5pm to 6:30pm
WHERE: Home of Adelia Simplot, 1119 E. Warm Springs Ave., Boise (please park on the street)
RSVP: BoiseWorkingTogether@gmail.com or 208-866-9701 by March 30.
Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 7082, Boise, ID 83707.
IT’S foolish TO IGNORE THE PEOPLE.
SATURDAY MARCH 17
Signing UP SouthEast Boise
Yesterday Boise Working Together held a signature gathering event at Vista and Overland. Our president, Adelia Simplot, board member Dave Kangas, and John Gannon, Idaho Legislator for District 17, spoke to the press and a group of residents coming out to give Boise the opportunity to SIGN and VOTE!
See KTVB's coverage here : KTVB Boise Working Together
See the Idaho Statesman's coverage here: ID Statesman Boise Working Together
SATURDAY MARCH 2
Signature Gathering HAs Begun
Signature-gathering has officially begun! Yesterday a significant crowd of concerned Boiseans joined us to pick up their packets, receive a brief training, and hit the streets to get to our goal of 5,000 signatures which would put the question of a $103 million dollar library and $35 million stadium on the ballot! Join us! If you would like to help us get to our goal and to make Boise leaders accountable to the taxpayers, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are organizing by Legislative District and Precinct. To make door-to-door outreach more efficient, e-mail us for a list of registered voters sorted by street for each precinct.
Here is a link to the Ada County Legislative Districts and Precincts: https://adacounty.id.gov/elections/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/CountyMap2018.pdf
You can find informational flyers, a flyer to tape to your clipboard, and the Legislative and Precinct map on our documents page:
SATURDAY MARCH 2
Signature Gathering Training for Library & Stadium Initiative at CoLLISTER LIbRARY!
Sycamore ROOM 3:30 pm
Signature-gathering has officially begun!! Yesterday a significant crowd of concerned Boiseans joined us to pick up their packets, receive a brief training, and hit the streets to get to our goal of 5,000 signatures which would put the question of a $103 million dollar library and $35 million stadium on the ballot! Join us! If you would like to help us get to our goal and to make Boise leaders accountable to the taxpayers, e-mail us at email@example.com.We have a short timeline to get 5,000 signatures to get the question of a $103 million library and a $64 million stadium on the ballot to allow citizens their right to vote on how substantial amounts of our public money are spent! The city has been running out the clock on the petition process so it leaves us with just enough time to get all the signatures necessary. However, we are going to need HUSTLE and need ALL HANDS ON DECK! if you can spare and hour, 5 hours, 10 or even 15 hours over the next 2 months, please come to this short hour-long training to pick up an initiative packet and learn how to be efficient and effective signature gatherer. You can decide to go door-to-door in your neighborhood to meet your neighbors ~or~ help us out at a big event downtown.
TUESDAY FEB 19
BOISE CITY HALL 6 PM
Boise City Council has agreed to discuss the need for real public input on projects of such magnitude. Tonight we will gather to listen to the Council members’ and the Mayor’s thoughts about the library and the stadium initiatives in a public setting, but contend that an open public hearing so citizens can speak and a vote on the issues are necessities.
Our letter in response can be found in our 'Documents' section, where we will publish important information to help facilitate a transparent discussion with the City of Boise.
READ THE LETTER IN DOCUMENTS