Friday, February 19, 2010

Hypocrisy on local control

From Gov. Butch Otter down through ranks of the state Legislature, Republicans have rebelled against federal powers over states and demanded Washington get off Idaho's back.

However, the obsession for local control ends there. Some Idaho lawmakers want to take on the same role of Big Daddy.

Two legislators, Republican House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, of Star, and Rep. Raul Labrador, of Eagle, have conjured a bill that would restrict the city of Boise from easily using a Local Improvement District (LID) to help finance a downtown 2.3-mile streetcar route.

Whether the current criticized east-west route or an alternate north-south route from downtown to the Boise State campus is the best is still debated.

Financing, too, is unsettled, since Boise's application for $40 million of a streetcar route's $60 million cost was rejected in Washington.

Nevertheless, urban demand for streetcar systems is alive--four projects (Tucson, Ariz.; Portland, Ore.; Dallas and New Orleans) were awarded a total of $154 million in federal funds.

Reps. Moyle and Labrador's bill would defeat the purpose of Boise's LID for seed money to get the streetcar system launched. In other words, Moyle and Labrador deviously would inject the state into city business in order to kill the project.

If the two lawmakers believe so firmly in local control, then they'll withdraw the legislation and encourage Boise to use an entirely legal and judicious way of making its own local decisions on how to pay for a local project with profound urban economic and environmental benefits.

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