Thursday, October 29, 2009

City of Kuna backs off powerline ban

It looks like the city of Kuna is backing down from Idaho Power in its dispute over the placement of power lines along Meridian Road and Kuna-Mora Road.
City planning director Steve Hasson tells me that he sent an email to City Council members on Monday letting them know that he’s removing the language in a text amendment to an overlay district ordinance that would ban any new utility structures within 660 feet of the highways.
I applaud the city for making an effort to try to make the city look nice, but I think this is a wise retreat. Idaho Power was holding up a franchise fee agreement that could bring in $100,000 in new revenue to the cash-strapped city budget. Plus, it seemed to me that the city was going a little overboard on keeping power lines out of the Meridian Road corridor.

You can read more of this in my Editor's Notebook in this week's Kuna Melba News. I'm also writing about an Urban Land Institute study in Kuna, the Kuna Chamber of Commerce's economic development committee and an update on the city park ballfields.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On fighting and conflicts of interest in the city of Kuna

As we enter the final couple of weeks of this Kuna City Council campaign, I want to implore our readers to make an informed decision, and I ask all Kuna residents to quit our seemingly obsessive compulsion for silly rumor-mongering and inaccurate perpetuations of tired myths.
We’ve had a couple of council candidates of late start leveling accusations of conflicts of interest on the current council and we had one candidate who, as far as I know hasn’t been to a single council meeting, tell the Boise paper that he’s tired of seeing all this fighting on the council.
I write this not as a defense or an endorsement of the sitting incumbents. To the contrary, there are plenty of issues that an informed, intelligent candidate can raise as a legitimate campaign platform: the handling of the local improvement district and the $27 million bill for the wastewater treatment plant, the $324,000 gaffe in last year’s budget, the elimination of funding in this year’s budget for the Zone, the Boys & Girls Club, the Chamber of Commerce.
But this insistent issue of conflicts of interest simply doesn’t hold much water.

If you want to read the rest of this editorial, you'll have to buy a copy of this week's Kuna Melba News.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We're in the midst of the goofy season

The Kuna City Council race is starting to get weird and heated. With 10 candidates running for two seats, it shouldn’t come as much surprise. In 15 years in the newspaper business covering dozens of cities in five states, I can assure you that Kuna is not unique in its penchant for small-town politics and bickering over petty slights.
But I can assure you that it’s never really much fun and it usually adds little to civil debate about issues.
You know that saying that the only two things certain in life are death and taxes? I would like to add another: Fights over campaign signs during an election. From Carlsbad, N.M., to Chardon, Ohio, to San Mateo, Calif., to Greece, N.Y., it’s always the same. Usually it’s about someone stealing someone’s campaign signs. In Kuna at the moment, we have some confusion over where campaign signs are allowed. Apparently, the signs are allowed on public property, but they can’t be in the public right-of-way, which apparently is where some candidates are placing their signs.
Terribly pressing issue that will decide the fate of the universe, right?
One of the candidates, Dave Szplett, wrote an email to all of the candidates saying, “I am amazed that nine people believe that they are qualified to run for city council but can’t even figure out what is public property. Worse, is how can someone break the sign law and still ask for the public’s trust. Maybe the news people will write up something on this obvious issue. Maybe if they cared.”
That spurred another candidate, Corinna Stiles, to respond, “And I’m amazed that a council candidate would be so disrespectful to his peers and make allegations towards people he knows nothing about. Perhaps that’s the issue for the news people.”
For those of you who plan on basing your election decision on road signs, I have noticed another candidate who should be getting your attention: Mr. Blowouts, Sprinkler Blowouts. He even puts his phone number right on his sign.
Speaking of Szplett, I had the hardest time getting a hold of him for our candidate essays. He wouldn’t answer his phone when I called and he wouldn’t return my emails.
Cheryl McCord and Bill Clark, Kuna Farmers Market organizers, had similar problems when they organized Meet the Candidates sessions at the Market. They received responses back from the other nine candidates, all of whom attended, but no response from Dave.
At the insistence of one of our readers, Szplett did finally submit an essay. But here we are again. I’ve asked the candidates to answer a few questions about police services, the LID, etc. Eight responded without any problems. On Oct. 8, I received an email from Szplett’s email account: “The Professor is still elk hunting. Elk season runs through Oct 12th but deer continues until October 20th. Maybe he’ll be here sooner.”
But then I saw him at El Gallo Giro the very next day. Odd. No elk in sight.
The next day, another email: “I am the Professor’s clerk. It appears that he was in Kuna for a short time yesterday. I have a bunch of notes from him. He reports sending out “some” emails. There were lots of them before he started though. Did he get to yours? I hope that he responded to your needs. If you need anything more, he should be back in town late on the 21st. He has jury duty on the 26th though. He never sits idle.”
Although voting is the most basic and pure expression of democracy, I’ll be glad when the goofy season is over.