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Eye On Boise

Archive for September 13, 2011

Simplots say they’ll help state maintain guv’s mansion

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The committee that holds the purse strings to the Idaho governor's mansion says the family of the late french fry billionaire J.R. Simplot is willing to help the state sustain the home for the next several years through a major fundraising campaign. The move could help Idaho avoid draining a fund to maintain the house and leaving taxpayers on the hook for upkeep of the water-guzzling, electricity-sucking hilltop mansion that the Simplot family donated to the state in 2004. The Governor's Housing Committee reported Tuesday that the fund holds about $936,000, which is enough to pay for about five to six years of maintenance. The committee is expected to consider a slew of options — which still could include selling the home — at a meeting later this year. Click below for a full report.

Order is out to form new redistricting panel, clock starts ticking…

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has issued his formal order establishing a new redistricting commission, which starts the clock ticking. The appointing authorities - the House speaker, the Senate president pro-tem, the House and Senate minority leaders, and the state Democratic and Republican party chairmen - now have up to 15 days to name their nominees, and then the new commission will have up to 90 days to adopt new legislative and congressional districts for the state. “The first meeting of the committee is scheduled on Wednesday, Sept. 28,” Ysursa said in a statement. “A lot of work has already been accomplished by the former committee and I hope the new committee will take advantage of that work and come to agreement on a plan quickly for the people of Idaho.”

BSU responds to NCAA infraction report; says ‘no impact on our on-field efforts’

Boise State University officials, commenting on the NCAA's report today on infractions in five sports, said they've taken steps to address the concerns raised by the NCAA. “We defended the athletic program to the best of our abilities at the hearing and had hoped our self-imposed sanctions and corrective measures would be sufficient,” said BSU President Bob Kustra.

“A number of decisions have been made since the beginning of the investigation that have demonstrated our commitment to the NCAA process. Boise State will have a diligent and meticulous approach to compliance, with a new level of leadership and accountability. The infractions and subsequent penalties have left us no margin for error going forward, and have changed the nature of oversight required.” Head football coach Chris Petersen said, “Like Dr. Kustra, I was surprised by the findings. I am also disappointed. However, it will not have an impact on our on-field efforts.  At this time we are completely focused on winning Friday’s game at Toledo.” Click below for BSU's full statement responding to the NCAA infractions report, and click here to read the full 73-page report.

NCAA cites BSU for violations in five sports

The NCAA has announced its findings on rule violations by Boise State University, citing BSU for major violations in five sports, with the biggest focusing on women's tennis. Penalties, some of which were self-imposed by the university and adopted by the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions, include public reprimand and censure; three years of probation; a one-year ban on post-season play following the 2011-12 women's tennis season; and a reduction of football scholarships from 85 to 82 for the 2011-12, 12-13 and 13-14 academic years. Click below for the full announcement from NCAA, which is being released now, at 1 p.m. Boise time; the NCAA also is holding a news conference.

9th Circuit to honor Nelson in Boise session

Judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will convene a special session Friday in Boise to celebrate the memory of the late Senior Circuit Judge Thomas G. Nelson of Boise, who died in May at the age of 74. The session will be held in the Capitol Auditorium at 2 p.m. and is open to the public; among those scheduled to speak are 9th Circuit Judges Sidney R. Thomas of Billings, Mont.; Richard C. Tallman of Seattle; Barry Silverman of Phoenix; and Randy Smith of Pocatello; along with Idaho Supreme Court Justice Joel Horton, Boise attorney John Rosholt, and two of Nelson's sons, Kyle Nelson and Dr. Hal T. Nelson.

August revenues slip below forecast

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho missed tax revenue forecasts in August by 4.4 percent or $8.7 million, as individual income tax and sales tax receipts lagged expectations. After two months of the fiscal year, total collections are $403 million, or $9.2 million less than forecast. Individual income tax collections in August were $91.4 million, about 3.9 million less than forecast. Sales tax receipts were expected to be $93.6 million, but came in at only $86.8 million. Remaining revenue categories hit their targets or were only slightly below. State lawmakers and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter are watching tax receipts in hopes of Idaho producing a second year of surpluses following the Great Recession. If Idaho hits its fiscal year 2012 target, it should have about $180 million more than is in the current spending plan.

New redistricting commission now won’t be convened for two more weeks

Instead of next Monday, it now looks like a new Idaho redistricting commission won't be convened until Sept. 28th. Secretary of State Ben Ysursa had originally asked all the appointing authorities to get him new names by this Wednesday - tomorrow - so he could convene a new commission on Monday, but some said they couldn't act that quickly - and pointed out that the state Constitution gives them 15 days to make their appointments. “There were some legitimate concerns on timing, they couldn't get things done in time,” Ysursa said this morning. “So the law and the Constitution gives them 15 days, technically, from the date of the order.” He's working on an order with plans to get it out today. “I was trying to push it and expedite it, and they had some legitimate concerns. … This kind of caught all of us by surprise to do the new commission, so I took some of their concerns to heart. But I want to get things going.”

Jonathan Parker, Idaho Republican Party executive director, said last night, “We're going to act as quickly as we can with Chairman (Norm) Semanko's appointments to the commission, but the Constitution is very clear, we do have 15 days. We would like to expedite that, but that's a decision that Chairman Semanko is not going to take very lightly. We'll have to get our task force back online, ask them for further recommendations.”

Larry Grant, Idaho Democratic Party chairman, said, “We were scrambling around yesterday trying to find our people to get the names to him by Wednesday. Then we got a call from (deputy secretary of state) Tim (Hurst) yesterday afternoon saying they had changed their mind.” He said, “We're actively getting our commissioners in line now, so we'll be ready,” and added, “We had a full slate from last time that we could have used, so now we just have to go back and check people's availability.”

Meanwhile, former GOP Commissioner Lou Esposito said he and the other two GOP members of the redistricting commission that disbanded last week without reaching agreement on a plan, Evan Frasure and Lorna Finman, are “taking a serious look” at whether to challenge the Idaho Supreme Court's ruling that a new commission must be appointed. “We believe that there is a possible basis to petition the court to reconsider, and we'll probably have a decision on that by early next week,” Esposito said.

Grant, an attorney, said, “Our understanding is the commission is over. Those guys don't have any legal authority to do anything. … It's just not legally possible, I don't think.”

Ysursa, also an attorney, said, “The way I read the court order and the way the Attorney General read the court order and the state statute, it seemed pretty clear to us that a new commission is involved, but you know, people can challenge anything.” He said his main concern is to get the process completed in time to allow for Idaho's next election, which is coming up next spring. “The further on it gets into the year and starts approaching the calendar year, it's time to get a plan and get going,” Ysursa said.

Johnson Post on redistricting: ‘Here’s an idea: Let Ben do it’

Marc Johnson's “Johnson Post” blog today offers an alternative on Idaho's current redistricting mess, saying, “When Idaho’s “citizen” reapportionment panel deadlocked recently everyone in the state looked to the Big Man on the second floor of the state capitol building for guidance. And for good reason. Ben Ysursa has forgotten more about Idaho’s election process than most of us could ever hope to know. So here’s a novel idea that will never happen, but should – let Ben draw the lines. I apologize in advance to my friend, Ysursa, but stay with me.” You can read Johnson's full post here.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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