Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary Week 2815


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by Free Market Duck

Boise Trolley Folly DOES Justify Legislative Intervention
Dec 02, 2009

“If Reps Moyle and Labrador get their way, cities would need property owners’ approval before imposing an LID [Local Improvement District] to cover $1 million or more in bonds.” – Idaho Statesman

“Well…duh…yeah.  And what is so wrong about citizens having the right to vote for or against approving a million dollar tax upon themselves?  And in the case of Boise Mayor Bieter’s Trolley Folly tax, we’re talking $10 million to $15 million in additional downtown taxes on small business owners.  – FM Duck

Boise, ID  –  Whoa, girl friends, pull up the floor and pour yourselves another hot cup of Rocket Java.  You’re not going to believe the bassackwards argument the Idaho Statesman editors put forth in last Tuesday’s “Our View” opinion column entitled, “Streetcar flap doesn’t justify ‘fix.’”

   If you want to gain an insight into how left Liberals think -- or rather how they typically go through the motions of trying to link up their disconnected thought globs to non sequitur conclusions -- listen to the backwards logic of the I.S. editors as they, first, presume that government entities (Idaho cities in this case) have inherent “rights” to implement taxation upon their citizens, rather than citizens having the right to control their governments, and then arrive at the conclusion that the state legislature doesn’t have the right to protect citizens from an overly abusive Boise City Council that wants to expand the definition of a Local Improvement District (LID) tax, to impose a huge new tax to the tune of $10 million to $15 million upon Boise’s downtown small business owners in order to jump start Boise Mayor Bieter’s federal money grab of $65 million for his new Trolley Folly.

   So what’s the big “flap?”

   Under current law, Idaho cities can tax a portion of their citizens by implementing an LID without a vote of the people being taxed.  An LID was intended for one-time, minor, one-shot sidewalk or parking or sewer improvements.  Then, along comes left Liberal Boise Mayor Dave Bieter in his slobbering love affair with President Barack Obama’s inflationary “Stimulus” program from which Bieter is drooling all over himself to grab off $40 to $65 million in federal money to build Bieter’s grandiose idea of a 2.3 mile downtown Boise Streetcar system.  We won’t bother refuting Obama and the Federal Reserve’s ridiculous socialist fairytales RE Keynesian Village Idiot Economics except to reiterate from previous articles that pulp fiction “stimulus” dollars are not “capital,” not backed by anything except political hot air, and cannot stimulate markets nor create productive jobs.  Period.

   So in slithers Boise Mayor Bieter attempting to use – rather mis-use -- Boise’s LID, not to implement sidewalks for wheel chairs or something minor, but rather to tax downtown business owners $10 million to $15 million to jumpstart Hizz Honor’s federally subsidized Streetcar Named Desire, a total distortion of the intent of an LID.

   Then, when Idaho GOP legislators found out about Mayor Bieter’s Sugar Plum Fairy Trolley Folly, they decided to introduce legislation limiting Idaho’s LID to $1 million.

   Whoa, the editors at the Idaho Statesman went bezonkers.  By what right, the editors whine, does the state legislature step in to prohibit or protect Boise citizens from the taxing abuse and mis-use of the LID by the Boise City Council and all other city councils throughout Idaho?

   “Make no mistake.  This is nothing more than a power grab – and not even a veiled one,” said the Idaho Statesman.

   Excuuuuse me?  A “power grab?”  Seems like the lefties at the Statesman have their reasoning screwed on upside down and backwards.  Is the state legislature grabbing power from the cities…OR…is the state legislature protecting its citizens from egregious, over-bearing city councils such as Boise Mayor Bieter’s boot lickers who want to tax the crap out of downtown businesses to rip up the streets, lay steel rails, and build ugly overhead electric wires for an umpteen hundred million dollar Trolley Folley?

   The Statesman, as usual, has it backwards.  Governments were brought into existence by inherently free citizens.  And the cities get their powers from the citizens, not the other way around.  All levels of government obtain their powers from the consent of the governed.  The only function of all levels of government is to protect individual rights, not provide welfare state cookies or tax the people for some bureaucrat’s real or imagined special interest folly.

   In this case, when city councils overstep their powers and abuse the use of their Local Improvement Districts to pay for things that were never intended to be paid for by cities with the LID – such as rockets to the Moon and Rapid Transit Systems -- and at such high tax amounts as tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, the state legislature is performing its proper function by protecting the inherent rights of its citizens from abusive city government.  When cities abuse their taxing privilege or “taxing tool” as the Statesman calls it, then the state legislature must step in.

   As Rep. Raul Labrador properly said, “I believe it’s our job as legislators to protect the taxpayer.”

   You’re damned right it is.  Thank you Rep. Raul.

   But the Statesman doesn’t get it.  In fact, they start arguing exactly bassackwards by saying, “If Reps Moyle and Labrador get their way, cities would need property owners’ approval before imposing an LID to cover $1 million or more in bonds.”

   Well…duh…yeah.  No kidding.  I wonder why.  And what’s so wrong about citizens having the right to vote for or against approving a million dollar tax upon themselves?  And in the case of Boise Mayor Bieter’s Trolley Folly tax, we’re talking $10 million to $15 million in additional downtown taxes on small business owners.

   Obviously, the editors at the Idaho Statesman have not only lost touch with the concepts of individual rights, limited government, and out of control waste, fraud, and abuse by, specifically, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and the Boise City Council, they have also lost touch with their own paid-for polls in which the Statesman reported that 63% of Boiseans oppose Bieter’s Trolley Folly, while only 27% support it.  The editors don’t even care about their own observations, which is a lot like pretending they don’t see the locomotive bearing down on them whilst lollygagging around on the railroad tracks.

   From both a moral philosophical AND an empirical data points of view, the Idaho Statesman is in a state of denial as it admits that the majority of citizens don’t want Bieter’s Streetcar Name Deficit but the Statesman wants it because they apparently believe pulp fiction dollars can stimulate an economy.  In addition, nobody really believes that Bieter’s Trolley, the fares of which his marketers claim will be “free,” will generate $1.2 billion of business within a decade.  Ya-yesss, girl friends, like everybody will suddenly swarm down to empty downtown Boise to ride on a streetcar named Desire and buy up everything in sight instead of jamming out to the Cheesecake Factory at the Boise Towne Square Mall.  Uh huh, you bet.  Only the winos and homeless will be riding the downtown Boise Rails because, you know, like, it’s ha-ha “free.”  And we know how the homeless can generate $1.2 billion in ten years, right?

   Bottom line, undaunted by logic or reasoning, disregarding financial reality, and pretending that we get our rights from the government instead of the other way around, the Idaho Statesman continues on its Progressive socialist campaign to increase the intervention of the giant welfare state.  Tax and spend.  Yippee and yahoo!

   Our advice?  The I.S. editors should go back to Basic Constitutional Law 101A and stop proselytizing and whining for more government taxation, especially with a mis-use of the Local Improvement District statutes for a 2.3 mile Trolley Folly for downtown Boise.  Their own polls show that nobody wants it.  Bieter’s Trolley Folly and the attempt to pull off an end run -- using the LID -- around the Idaho Constitution’s mandate of a two-thirds vote by the voters to go into multi-year indebtedness, is simply another political variation of the $138 million University Place fiasco of 1998-2005 that the Statesman also cheered for.  How’d that work out for Boise, you silly dolts? – FM Duck

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