John Livingston

Keep Idaho—Idaho

I finally got around to reading the John Durham CROSSFIRE HURRICANE conclusions after reading through 350 pages that would make anyone’s skin crawl. Idaho’s Frank Church is rolling over in his grave and if you can listen closely in a peaceful and quiet place you can hear his voice softly saying, “I told you so.”

The bottom line that is addressed indirectly in the conclusion is that there is no law, there is no system of governance, there is no oversite that can take the place of a virtuous unselfish public servant. Individuals—mostly political appointees, but also some politicians themselves, whoever place themselves in a conflicted position of serving a special interest, their constituents, or their own conscience—the “voice within”, can misuse the process of governance to serve their own needs—sometimes unknowingly.

The business of governance always is at a crossroads between the government and the private sector. An Admiral or General at the Pentagon who retires and becomes a Board Member at Boeing or Lockheed or Raytheon, or an employee of a municipality who leaves government and takes a job with an organization that they were formally given the responsibility of regulating, the tension of “who do I serve” is too often answered with the words consciously or unconsciously—”myself”. The problem is ubiquitous. It is every bit as big a problem in Idaho at the State House and in our local municipalities, in our legislature, in our city halls, and amongst elected, appointed and employed individuals at all levels of government as it is in our FBI and Department of Justice. It has become so common that its’ practitioners have become anesthetized to its presence and its underlying evil.

I must say that there is a breath of fresh air this spring in Idaho—Attorney General Raul Labrador. His predecessor Lawrence Wasden served honorably and his service to Idaho should be respected. In my opinion in the last few years, he allowed himself to become captured with the values and interests of out of state corporations and developers and instate lobbyists who have become the puppet masters of our State and municipal bureaucracies, many times holding more influence over the process of governance than our elected officials. I must say however that this has happened not only under the nose of the former AG, but also under the noses of our elected officials themselves. Just look at the list of prominent Republicans who opposed Mr. Labrador if you want to get an inkling of who those “special interests” are. It wasn’t WE THE PEOPLE.

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Over the past months, citizens have been sued, have sued, and there have been counter and counter suits throughout the State of Idaho regarding the rights of homeowners, ranchers and farmers, and neighbors—individual citizens and voters, vs the interests of developers and their partners, large corporations that leverage their projects with capital from across the world. Could a creditor bank, hedge fund, or a venture capital company in London or Hong Kong have a claim and final say about how a property in Idaho will be developed, if the developer cannot meet her financial obligations to his partners? What happens to a local project in Boise or Garden City, Eagle, or Warm Springs in Ketchum? Will those types of decisions be determined by a group of financiers who have never stepped foot in Idaho? Those questions are being asked today by homeowners in Harris Ranch, by citizens in Eagle regarding the Avalon project, and at Lava Ridge. Mr. Labrador and his team stepped up to the plate big time at Lava Ridge. There is more work to be done however in Idaho.

Just a thought for the current AG and his team to consider. Please and with all due respect investigate how the current Special Use Permit (SUP) statute in Idaho Code is being misapplied across our state by local municipalities who use variations, in our town it is called a “Special Area Plan” (SAP), to metastasize development of multiuse projects into existing neighborhoods and “legacy properties” that are over 100 years old.

And it is certainly passed time to examine the bureaucratic process that developers have leveraged to circumvent the authority and control that elected officials have over the years delegated to non-elected commissions and government agencies. The transaction between government and applicant—developer or vendor, becomes increasingly more invisible, and the position of citizen becomes less important. Decisions of great importance can be made with out a public hearing or even a notice of a meeting. These are the types of issues that City Attorneys and our State Attorney General and his team need to address and ASAP please and thank you sirs and madams.

It is time for Idaho to take a stand for itself against outsiders who are trying to make Idaho more like the places where they came from, instead of having people coming into our State, who we welcome with open arms, adapt to our unique and disappearing way of life.

Thank you, Mr. Labrador and the team you have built.

Keep up the great work.

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