Notes before we begin:
- After typing up all the interesting tidbits of the week, I realized that there were a TON of very interesting meetings that happened. Maybe it's because it's the end of the year? The one meeting I did NOT attend was the North Idaho College Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday because for the health of my family I attended church instead. Sorry guys! I heard it was quite a...spicy...meeting and I'm looking forward to watching the video once it's made available on the NIC YouTube page. In the meantime you can read all about the meeting on the front page of Thursday's CDA Press. :D
Notes from the meetings that I've watched, in person or online.
- Idaho Strong Virtual Press Conference
- Gabriel Rench had a follow up virtual press conference and had speeches from Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, Dr. Wooll, Dr. John Livingston, and Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin.
- Dr. Wooll, along with Dr. Livingston, shared extremely profound nuggets of wisdom about how to do as much as you can to protect yourself from catching Covid, and if you do catch it, how to treat yourself before Covid gets too extreme. Those nuggets included taking vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin B complex, Zinc, melatonin, etc. to help build your immune system to ward of any viruses that might come your way. Prophylaxis like getting fresh air, getting OFF sugar and high carbs, and washing your hands were also in their presentation. It was so refreshing to hear doctors publicly say these things, to remind everyone that homeopathy should ALWAYS come before heading to the doctor, that I almost cried.
- Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin ended the speaking portion before the media was able to ask questions to the speakers. Our favorite Betsy Russell from the Idaho Press started asking why the Lt. Governor doesn't denounce protests and white supremacy that obviously happened in Boise last week. I may have screamed a few times through my computer that there was no connection between the Central Health District protesters and the Anne Frank Memorial being defaced, as we previously discussed, but Betsy wouldn't take any answer from the Lt. Governor except one that denounced the CHD protesting at the CHD office and board members' homes last week. "When the media stops advocating for the doxxing of my own house and businesses, you may get an answer out of me." -Janice McGeachin, in my own words.
- I HIGHLY recommend everyone take a bit of time to watch the press conference, There are many helpful slides from the doctor's presentation and I'm sure you will find it as useful as I did.
- Kootenai County Commissioners Status Update
- Advisory board positions have been voted on EXCEPT for the Planning & Zoning Committee and the Historic Preservation Committee. More interviews have to be done before specific people can be recommended and voted upon by the Commissioners.
- Through department meetings and discovery, the facilities expansion project may end up being a project of 2 buildings instead of just 1. The contract will have to be renegotiated with the architect; the square footage will roughly remain the same, but the budget will be dropped from $24M to approximately $20M. Shawn Riley, the Kootenai County External Project Manager, doesn't see the county going over for the $20M, although the architect will be increasing the design fee percentage in the contract from 5.5% to 7%. Because the total budget is decreasing to $20M, the design fee percentage had to increase slightly to come out to the same dollar amount as the original contract had budgeted to get the job done.
- Kootenai County Commissioners Human Resources Personnel
- The Sheriff's office has requested to open another Records Specialist position within the department to handle the influx of FOIA requests coming through the department. The department *just* filled their previous Records Specialist spot this last Monday, but Captain Kevin Smart says that position was just to backfill another open position to handle the regular day to day duties. Because there are SO MANY FOIA requests now, they need another position to handle all the work that isn't getting done when they drop everything to handle these time-sensitive requests. This job requisite ask is in the middle of the fiscal cycle, so the commissioners want to put this request on hold for 30 days for all other department requests to be heard first. They will circle back with this request in the middle of January.
- US Senator Mike Crapo Congressional Forum brought to you by the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce
- Proud of the committees he's on: Chairman of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Budget Committee, Finance Committee, Chairman of the Finance sub-committee on Taxation and IRS Oversight.
- Questions to Crapo: In regards to extending the PPP, where is the Senate in negotiations?
- Crapo says the PPP was very successful. Proud that they were able to implement it in weeks versus years. Hundreds of billions of dollars were put back into the private sector.
- Crapo says that he expects they will extend PPP into the next year, more hundreds of billions of dollars.
- His committee is trying to work the process of getting PPP loans forgiven faster without a lot of extra paperwork/bureaucracy.
- Also trying to extend scope of industries the PPP could be used for - more than just wages/salaries. They're trying to get other programs authorized; working on a more expanse of assistance to reach a broader range of industries. There's a lot of of small businesses that were unable to get assistance the first time around so they're trying to help those businesses.
- Q: How are you going to handle the transition over to a Biden administration?
- (I'm paraphrasing here) We're going to keep on going the way we have been going; I don't know if his team was telling him what to say on the campaign trail, or if he really believes it, but I'm going to have to disagree with him about the idea of socialized medicine. I also worked hard to get those Trump Administration tax cuts; I don't believe it'd be wise to try to undo those.
- Central District Health Board of Trustees Meeting
- Central District Health is the public health department that covers Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley Counties.
- Last week there was a mask mandate board meeting where over 400 protesters showed up outside the CDH offices and at board member's houses to protest in the street in front of their house. The CDH board members "felt afraid for their lives: that they had to cut the meeting short and leave without a vote. At the same time (or it was announced at the same time) people defaced the Anne Frank Memorial with swastika stickers. So, naturally, the local traditional media started printing articles from groups denouncing and linking the two events, which was then picked up by national media, implying that the protesters are white supremacists. I wrote about this issue during the Brad Little press conference, pointing out the fact that the Anne Frank Memorial is a 15-20 minute drive away from the CDH building driving into downtown Boise. I'm also pretty disappointed with anyone who signed the Idaho GOP's ridiculous letter condemning protesting, and linking anti-Semitism in with protesting in the same letter.
- Miste Karlfeldt filmed a prayer session and protest out in front of the CDH building, just like she did the at the first meeting. You can clearly see "police" on the surrounding roofs although the Boise Police said that no one was carrying weapons on those roofs. You can watch it yourself and make up your own mind.
- The only thing the board was discussing was a mask mandate.
- In the end, the board TIED 3-3 on the mandate, and because there was no majority, the mandate failed.
- The county commissioners on the board said that they represent the people of their counties, and they have been told by their people that their counties are overwhelmingly against a mandate so they will not vote for one. <--how refreshing
- Coeur d'Alene City Council Meeting
- The Mobile Santa Food Drive with the firetruck Santa will be happening again now! Click to find the route posted on the Fire Department's website.
- The Lake City Senior Center Meals on Wheels program is asking for more CARES funding due to the higher number of seniors needing to be included in the program. The Lake City Center has already received $3,686 in March to purchase more disposable trays for the meals. This time they have requested $18,292 in CARES funding. That funding would be to pay for:
- additional food trays
- a shipping container to store extra supplies
- extra food
- 2 freezers to store said extra food
- This requested money would pay for enough food to get through about 3 weeks of meals. Because the city council won't be meeting again for the next 3 weeks, they've approved $19,662 of CARES funding; the extra $1,370 to cover the cost of additional food to get through the holidays in case they run out before they can come back to the council and ask for more.
- There were two requests for zoning changes in tonight's meeting, and normally I wouldn't call out these tidbits as necessarily "fascinating," but they caused a little bit of contention online so I thought I'd mention them. There was a property on Haycraft Ave that a developer wanted to change from R-12 to R-17, and there was a piece of property on College Ave. that wanted to change from R-12 to LM. Dan Gookin had made a comment during the meeting that when he was first elected he promised himself that he would protect established neighborhoods, and he opposed both of these changes in zoning tonight. He was outnumbered both times, but that didn't stop the negative comments on his Facebook page to roll in about those. Whether you agree with that or not I recommend you join the conversation over on his page.
- Kootenai County Fair Board Update
- 2021 North Idaho Fair has been extended to a 10-day event.
- A new Golden Holiday Ticket promotion is going on now through December 31st. For $185/person you get:
- 10 day carnival ride pass
- 10 day fair pass
- 32oz drink cup
- $2 refills all event
- After January 1st there will be a 10-day Fair Admission (no carnival rides included) "Season Pass" available for purchase for $50/person.
- State of the Fairgrounds after 2020
- Income is down 66%
- Revenue is down 25%
- The RV park is their saving grace that the fairgrounds are able to survive at all.
- Total expenses are down 58%
- Net income is down $45K
- Fire Department has leased a 2 acre plot of land in the far SE corner of the fairgrounds for a new firehouse. (This has already gone through the KCBOCC multiple times and everything was approved last month.)
- $50,000 was given from fire department to county on the signing of the lease.
- The other $314,800 will be due at the time of groundbreaking, although it doesn't look like that will happen until 2022.
- Kootenai County Elected Officials Meeting
- Leslie is spearheading the 2022 budget discussion and it's going to look different than previous years because due to the world being thrown onto it's face and the *potential* change in Presidential "regime," they can't look at 3 year past trends like they've done in the past. Leslie's team will be looking ahead for 5 years to see what the county will need and go from there. They're also looking at revenue sources besides property taxes - she said the legislature will be discussing that a lot in the near future - but they're going to start looking at the revenue that comes into Kootenai County, fees specifically, and see when the last time those fees were raised. There may be a chance to bring in additional revenue there.
- The CDA DMV Vehicle Licensing office is closed due to an employee testing positive for Covid. That announcement was made via press release last week, and they'll continue to be closed until right before Christmas. They ask that all those who had a CDA appointment scheduled go to the Post Falls DMV location with the understanding that there may be more of a wait because they also have PF appointments as well. They ask that people do not go to DMVs outside of the county; only Boundary and Nez Perce Counties are even taking out-of-county customers.
- Here's an interesting issue that's been exacerbated by the CDA DMV closure:
- The DMV is WAY behind in a lot of their work, especially the dealer title transfers when people buy cars. They're backlogged to October 1st!
- The way they do title transfers is in two parts: 1.) Data entry for all the dealer paperwork and specific information about the vehicle. Once that information is entered it goes to the 2.) DMV Title Clerks to finish the process. The Idaho Transportation Department Motor Vehicle Inspectors have been helping do data entry to get to #2, but they've only been able to help a bit, not full time. Once the data entry is complete they quarantined Title Clerks still have to come in and finish the process. Both steps are not being done which is why everything's backlogged. My question, as a member of the public, is why can't some temp. data entry jobs open up to get that backlog finished? Why can't CARES funding be used to get a person's at-home computer software/hardware protected enough to be able to do the data entry from home? Just trying to think of workarounds.
- Leslie mentioned during Public Comment that she recently attended a virtual 2021 Legislative Preview workshop through the Idaho Association of Counties and there was quite a bit of interesting information that came out of it:
- The State of Idaho has a $600M budget SURPLUS due to CARES funding coming into the state however they were notified that the State *may* not be funding the public health districts anymore and it would possibly be up to the counties to fund.
- The State may use indigent program money to fund the health districts.
- There was a property tax discussion which went right over my head but you can listen to it in the Elected Officials meeting around 41:00.
- Medicaid is looking A LOT more expensive than originally planned (no duh) so they're looking at ways to fund that.
- They're looking for counties to support an Unfunded Mandate Law that says if the State is going to put an mandate onto the counties, then they're going to have to fund said mandate. No more State tyrannical mandates and then the counties have to figure out how to carry out their mandate and how to pay for it.
- Leslie will be going to the IAC meetings in person so that she'll be in Boise multiple times to ensure Kootenai County won't be harmed with all the new proposed ideas coming out of the legislature. She is hoping to work closely with our local legislators to make sure our county doesn't get screwed.