Idaho Falls city councilPublished: Tuesday 01 Dec 2020 | Edited: Tuesday 01 Dec 2020
Sometimes, you have a political belief that's, like, highly ideological and comes down to how you view abstract concepts like liberty and justice and whatever. And you have beliefs about which guy should be the president of the United States, and you think you know what all the implications of that will be, and you are targeted by super biased media machinery that tries to lock you in to a chamber where you get very slanted journalism that barely touches on reality on those big, national or international topics.
And all of that confusing bullshit distracts you from what is going on right under your nose at your local city council.
Because, at the local level, especially in a small town, like the one I live in, things are way less complicated. And it is starting to scare me that the people where I live seem to be so distracted by national issues or Facebook conspiracy holes or something that the Idaho Falls city council just can do whatever it wants.
First of all, I don't even live in Idaho Falls, anymore. I don't even live in its county. So, I'm just upset about this as a former citizen.
These creeps just worked out a deal where they get to build a $30 million city police station on terrible, undeveloped real estate, bind the city to a small group of private investors for 20+ years, and do it all without a word from the Idaho Falls taxpayer.
You can read an article about it here.
Just as an aside, the journalist who wrote this - Eric Grossarth - is a local legend. While he was still a student at BYU-Idaho, he helped break the Medicaid debacle from inside the school writing for the university's paper, even through efforts to shut the work down. The story was covered in NPR and the New York Times, and the backlash it sparked eventually led the school to reverse their decision and publicly apologize. He has also been covering the Vallow/Daybell case, again receiving national attention. It goes without saying, but I'm a huge fan.
And he pulled through with this police station bit.
The city made the decision to move forward with building a new police station, funded by a system called "certificates of participation." They say it doesn't require taxpayer approval, because it doesn't increase existing taxes. Except, it kinda changes how the taxpayers' money is spent, because if the city can't pay $2 million a year for the next 22 years from the existing city police budget, the ownership of the police station is returned to a group of private investors.
So, what the fuck?
If I were an Idaho Fallsian, I'd be asking:
- What is the entire annual budget for the city police department?
- What cuts will have to be made to existing police spending to compensate for the commitment of $2 million to pay the lease thing?
- Who, exactly, is allowed to make up this group of private investors? Are there any limitations, or articles of exclusion? Is there a way to mitigate conflicts of interest?
- What benefit does the police force expect from the new facilities? And what do those benefits mean for the citizens of Idaho Falls?
- How easy is it to repurpose a police station to some other use, in the case of a loan default? Will the investors be allowed to work out a financing deal directly with the police department, if the city decides to opt out of payment on the lease? And what happens to police operations, and the officers themselves, in that scenario?
These are all questions a concerned citizen may have, which have conveniently been skirted.
I've been to city council meetings. I've been a pain in the ass there a time or two. I get why the city council doesn't want to deal with the contrarians, the assholes, the idiots, and the freaks that show up to oppose stuff like this. And I get that they don't want to risk missing out on a project they are excited about by putting it to a vote. But, guess what? That's what you fuckin' have to deal with in a democracy.
I'm already deeply resigned to that fact that our national governance belongs to the few and the wealthy. It's killing me to see it happen in the places where I'm from.