Letters to the editor: 09-25-2013

September 25, 2013 

Soliciting ordinance

On Sept. 17, the Boise City Council voted in the controversial Aggressive Soliciting Ordinance. After the vote they were lectured by the mayor on the people’s misunderstanding of this ordinance. He extolled the hard work of the group of city organizations that helped craft the ordinance. This group included his staff, city lawyers, the police and the “mom and pop” Downtown Boise Association.

Notably absent was representation of those who would be most adversely affected by the ordinance (Boise Homeless Coalition, for example, advocates for this population).

The mayor also told the crowd that the ordinance did not stop passive solicitation anywhere in the city. What he did not reveal was that the “20-foot” restriction in designated areas just about restricts all of Downtown Boise from passive soliciting.

The ordinance also restricts any verbal soliciting anywhere in the city. Any first-year law student could see that this law criminalizes speech, a right protected by the Constitution, yet permits behavior, a right not protected by the Constitution. This ordinance will do nothing to stop mentally challenged or the alcohol- and drug-addicted from being Downtown. It will, however, keep away people who are in real need of help.



Contrary to 50 years of Federal Highway Administration research, Gov. Otter has proclaimed that a 600,000-plus-pound megaload with dozens of axles exceeding 40,000 pounds exacts no more wear and tear on highways and bridges than a 1-ton pickup.

But, the Idaho Transportation Department doesn’t require 1-ton pickups be towed by cable across Arrow Bridge or install extra axles to cross Fish Creek Bridge, blocking all traffic for over an hour, as megaloads do.

One-ton pickups don’t hold up logging trucks for 30 to 45 minutes, don’t stop 18-wheelers for two hours or block commercial and recreational traffic at Lolo Pass for 40 minutes. Taxpayers don’t pay overtime to county and state police so pickups can travel the highway. One-ton pickups don’t block Highway 12 to emergency traffic, don’t wake up campers along the Lochsa River and don’t delay following traffic for three hours, as Omega Morgan’s megaload did.


Park support

As a member of a growing number of 20- to 30-year-olds trying to raise public awareness about the 100-plus forms of arthritis, I wanted to take a moment to show my support for Mayor Bieter and the Boise City Council in their efforts to improve and expand parks in underserved neighborhoods. As an arthritis patient myself, I can attest to the importance of “Motion is Lotion.”

Now, I’m guessing some of you are saying how can new and better parks help a child or adult in Boise with arthritis. The answer is simple: “Motion is Lotion.” Contrary to what you might have seen on commercials, arthritis cannot be cured with two pills a day. By adding new and better parks to Boise’s amazing collection of outdoor activities, we would be showing support to all arthritis patients with their “Motion is Lotion” goals.


Meat inspection

According to a lead story in The Washington Post, the meat inspection program that U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to roll out in meat and poultry plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop production of contaminated meat. The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines and replace USDA safety inspectors with their own employees.

But plants operating under this program have experienced some of the worst health and safety violations, including failure to remove fecal matter and partly digested food, according to the USDA inspector general. These contaminants may contain complex strains of deadly E. coli and listeria.

Traditionally, USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than health and safety concerns of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having the USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the chicken house.

The Obama administration must reallocate responsibility for consumer safety to the Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, each of us must assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of plant-based meats offered in local supermarkets.



I see that the “no smoking” ordinance is working so well on 8th Street, as I watch people smoking every day and flicking their ash in the dirt of the trees lining the street, right next to the Smoke Free Zone sign. Good job, councilmen!


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