Mayor Dave Bieter on Wednesday used his 10th State of the City address to chastise state jobs policies and Ada County Highway District development impact fees while championing a promising idea for a high tech "ecosystem" supported by entrepreneurs.
We heard his message that Boise can't count on state and federal layers of government for much assistance in the future and so it better get used to going it alone.
That notion quickly translated into a proposal for a $50 million bond election that could fund firefighting facilities, parks, libraries and open space. Bieter promised to work with the community to identify initiatives in those categories and seek public buy-in and an estimated $20 a year per homeowner to pay for it.
It all sounded wonderful as Bieter paced upon the platform, but we on the ground were expecting more from the man who said "Boise is built on big dreams."
We congratulate the mayor on the accomplishments noted in a handsome glossy program referring to "A City on the Rise." Included are the 8th & Main and JUMP projects, attracting Trader Joe's, and working with Micron and Western Aircraft to support their continued presence in our community. We applaud the initiative to work with local entrepreneurs to foster the creation and growth of tech startups.
But just like last year's editorial after Bieter's 2012 State of the City address, it is what we didn't hear that troubles us. What is the vision for Boise in 2015, 2020 or 2025. And how do we get there?
Bieter has positioned himself as a key influencer. He inserted himself on the Capital City Development Corporation board and worked to get his people at the head of that urban renewal agency and on the board of the Greater Boise Auditorium District. But to what end?
In the meantime we can do with less animosity toward other stakeholders, like ACHD and the state. We doubt the tactic of dissing lawmakers will win him votes for a local option taxing authority for Boise.
We don't need dysfunction from him or the Statehouse. We need people and plans to marshal our human and capital resources for a better Boise and a better Idaho. We don't understand how alienating other regional government stakeholders achieves that goal.
Boise can decide to go it alone and seek funding from its citizens via bonds to get things done. Or, Bieter and his allies can decide to do something really forward thinking. They can change direction, reach out to county, state, federal and business partners to plan for a Treasure Valley that works better - and works together.
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