Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘We had a pact in America; work brought dignity’

Crowd at Monday morning's hearing on anti-Occupy bill (Betsy Russell)
Crowd at Monday morning's hearing on anti-Occupy bill (Betsy Russell)

First up to testify on HB 404 this morning, the bill to ban camping on the Capitol Mall grounds and evict the Occupy Boise encampment from state property across from the capitol, was Geoff Burns, an older man neatly dressed in a sweater, tie and slacks, whose career was in construction management. Burns told lawmakers, "Going forward, you have two options: One is to create conflict, the other is to work cooperatively with your constituents." He said, "Never in our history have the heavy-handed efforts of government to quell the voice of the people been successful, from Lexington and Concord to Haymarket Square to Selma, Alabama to the steps of the Oakland City Hall, the will of the people has always prevailed. And we all, all of us who are so fortunate to call ourselves American , thank God for that."

Answering questions from lawmakers, Burns said he's concerned about corporate influence in politics and the economy. Years ago, he said, "We had a pact in America. Anyone who was willing to work was able to live with dignity and promise. ... That pact has been broken in this country. Work doesn't necessarily bring dignity any more." He invited lawmakers to an open house at the Occupy Boise vigil site tomorrow afternoon. "Can I guarantee you when those tents can come down? I can't," he said. Calling for cooperation instead of conflict, he said, "But I'm trying to show you a path forward."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

Follow Betsy online: