July 26, 2008 in Voices

Idaho banks doing better than most

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer
 

Idaho’s top financial regulator says state-chartered banks and credit unions in Idaho are “safe and sound” at a time when large financial institutions elsewhere are experiencing significant problems related to mortgage defaults.

“Idaho commercial banks and savings institutions continued to outperform the nation during the first quarter 2008 and reported higher levels of capital, higher profitability and lower nonperforming loans and net charge-offs than institutions nationwide,” state Department of Finance Director Gavin Gee announced.

The percentage of Idaho mortgage delinquencies for the first quarter of 2008, 3.62 percent, is down from the fourth quarter 2007 figure of 3.86 percent. For the full year of 2007, mortgage delinquencies were lower than 10 of the past 20 years. “Idaho ranked better than 44 other states in percentage of mortgage loans seriously delinquent (90 days plus) or in foreclosure,” he reported.

Otter names Hartgen to House

Gov. Butch Otter has named former Twin Falls Times-News publisher Stephen Hartgen to the state House, to serve out the term of Rep. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, who earlier was appointed to replace the late Sen. Tom Gannon, R-Buhl. Hartgen, 63, is a Republican and a member of the state Capitol Commission. He’s been employed in his own consulting business since 2005.

Pipal signs on with economic group

Julie Pipal, a well-known figure around the state capitol as the Idaho Transportation Department’s legislative liaison for the past five years, is the new legislative affairs director for the Boise Valley Economic Partnership, a regional economic development organization for the Boise metro area that includes, among others, the cities of Nampa, Meridian, Caldwell, Eagle and Star, along with chambers, educational institutions and businesses.

The organization focuses on attracting and retaining jobs. Paul Hiller, executive director, said Pipal will serve as a full-time lobbyist for the group during the state legislative session “to help ensure that issues relating to economic growth in our region are fully communicated,” including transportation, workforce development, infrastructure funding and education.

Bus with agenda rolls into Boise

A rolling anti-Bush museum-in-a-bus rolled into Boise this week, showcasing the drawbacks of “The Bush Legacy” en route from its last stop in Sioux Falls to its next gig in Seattle. Parked outside the downtown post office, the bus drew an appreciative, like-minded stream of visitors at its noon stop.

Twenty-eight-year-old bus driver Joel Parisoe said he’s gotten all kinds of reactions on the road. “I’ve had thumbs-ups, I’ve had waves, I’ve had fingers – a guy threw a sandwich at me the other day,” he said.

The bus tour is sponsored by a group called “Americans United for Change,” which formed in 2005 to oppose Social Security privatization and has since branched out into other issues. Julie Blust, the group’s press secretary for the tour, said, “The Bush Legacy Bus is just one piece in an ongoing effort to redefine American political values and to create an enduring progressive majority in America. The bus serves to educate Americans about how the conservative policies President Bush and his allies in Congress have pursued have failed America and why progressive approaches to health care, the economy, foreign policy and other issues provide the solutions Americans are looking for.”

So why did the bus stop in Boise, capital of a state where President Bush won 68.4 percent in his re-election bid in 2004? Blust said the bus is making nearly 150 stops “in the hometowns of Bush’s allies in Congress,” and targeted 1st District GOP Congressman Bill Sali for supporting Bush Administration policies in Congress. Plus, Bush’s support in Idaho has dropped, according to recent polls. In materials distributed on the bus, Blust called Sali “a reliable vote for the conservative agenda.”

“Is that a criticism or are they trying to flatter us?” responded Wayne Hoffman, spokesman for Sali. “The congressman promised two years ago he’d go to Washington, D.C., and fight for conservative Idaho values, and he’s done exactly that.”

However, Hoffman added, “Congressman Sali has not voted in lockstep with President Bush. In fact, he has criticized the president of a variety of different positions taken by the Bush Administration, and he has been open about that.” He cited Sali’s opposition to an energy bill that Bush signed into law, and his support for veto overrides on funding for water projects and farm legislation.

Blust cited a Congressional Quarterly study of all congressional votes that showed Sali supported Bush 90 percent of the time. In addition to the hometowns of Bush allies in Congress, the bus is stopping in major cities and will be at both political parties’ national conventions.

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or bzrussell@gmail.com. For more news from Boise, see her Web log at www.spokesmanreview. com/boise.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email