Katherine Frazier and Pat Felts dont match the City Hall watchdog prototype.
Theyre not jaded.
No one pays them to attend meetings.
Theyre sharp dressers. Theyre both north of 80 years old.
Theyre entertaining. They love to laugh. Especially when theyre together.
Here, for example, is a brief exchange in their discussion of Boise City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg:
Felts: Shes very inquisitive and, you know, right on the ball.
Frazier: Well, she bicycles to the meetings, so I think shes got oxygen in her mind.
Felts: That keeps her mind sharp.
Felts and Frazier started attending the City Councils regular weekly meetings this spring. It wasnt suspicion of malfeasance that drove them there.
They wanted to improve themselves, to get a better handle on how their local government works.
Its easy to pick up national news, especially if youre interested in wars and stuff like that, Frazier said. Most people know something about whats going on in Washington. And then they get less and less informed until you get down to the city level, and they dont know much of anything. And I was one of those.
Over the past five months, the women have become a fixture at council meetings.
We just enjoy having them there, Council President Maryanne Jordan said. Now, when we dont see them for a few weeks, we get a little concerned.
Councilman Ben Quintana said hed like to see more people follow their lead.
Engaged citizens would be a goal of any city council, I would believe. I think having more people just actively participating, learning about how the city is functioning, helps everybody, Quintana said. I think it would be fantastic to see more of those people, more of anybody, showing up.
Councilwoman Lauren McLean said the public, whether its two women who haunt City Council meetings or people she bumps into on the street, helps shape her opinions and decisions.
Its vital. We cant do what we do without engagement from Boise citizens, McLean said. And theres really nothing I like more than to hear from citizens, whether they agree with me or not.
Frazier and Felts met each other almost 40 years ago at a Christian Womens Club meeting.
Felts, 83, grew up in a family of farmers in Illinois. She majored in home economics at Iowa State University before moving to Idaho with her husband. She moved to Boise for good in 1955.
Frazier, 85, is a native of Georgia. She met her husband at the University of Idaho and settled in Boise in 1964. She has three children, 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
Felts has three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
So Im not as prolific as Frazier, she said.
The women didnt always have time for government meetings, or even to pay that much attention to what was going on.
When we were younger and raising families, youre so absorbed. Youre going to your childrens events, Felts said. So you dont have this time to spend You just dont have it.
Theyre making up for lost time. At most council meetings, theyre the only ones in the room except for a reporter, the mayor, city council members and city staff.
Frazier said the council and mayor have been more than courteous. Both of them like Mayor David Bieters jokes.
Felts said shes impressed by the range of issues the council deals with and its members even-handedness.
They are courteous to all people testifying, no matter whether they agree with them or not. So I can admire them for their balance, I guess, Felts said.
Like a true watchdog, however, Frazier acknowledged theyre a little skeptical. A few in-person meetings with council members and the mayor may be in order before they etch their opinions about city leaders in stone, she said.
Well probably know more about what we think about them when we get to discussing something, maybe, in an office, Frazier said. We havent done that.
Sven Berg: 377-6275