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Old 04-04-2015, 03:21 PM
8,440 posts, read 12,685,816 times
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TE=banjomike;39084474]There are some city offices where their top people could be tempted away by private enterprise.

I think Idaho Falls Power is one, for sure, and our sanitation plant another; Jackson Hole just lost its most senior sanitation plant worker to a terminal disease, and who better to know local conditions there than here? The new plant by Shelley could also be looking for some long-time experience locally as well.

Another threatened loss could be the chiefs of the city sanitation services. Garbage collection is big business, especially in a fast growing county like Bonneville.

Mayor Casper might just be giving some raises to keep the seniors who really know their stuff on the job here in the city.

The new proposed north power loop will need some real experience and expertise, and for sure, once its built, so will new developments. I'm just supposing' here, but heading leadership problems off at the pass could make for greater savings than new hires who have similar qualifications.

I also think Councilwoman Perry's bones to pick with Mayor Casper aren't all personal. Sharon is a fiscal conservative, and is determined to keep the council from becoming a rubber stamp to a progressive Mayor. Personally, I think the friction isn't a bad thing; both are competent and smart ladies, and this is the kind of stuff that needs an anvil as much as a hammer now, before things get critical. I don't think Mrs. Perry is blindly oppositional, but she wants to slow down any rush decisions that may happen too fast.
At least I hope that's her position. Keeping a careful financial balance to our city government is always critical, especially in times when expected growth lie just ahead.[/quote]


You are correct that reportedly two of those employees had other offers. Sharon Parry herself didn't disagree with the salary amount; she disagreed with the PROCESS of the Mayor sending a memo to the council and deciding herself. Given the City Code says the Council sets salary and benefits, IMO, Mayor Casper should know that. If she doesn't like it I'm not certain how city code gets changed. But she is required the current process until it is changed, if it gets changed.

I also agree that a friendly exchange of differing ideas is good. The end result is often a solution that has pieces added by various people, regardless of the setting. I think everyone agreeing about everything always, limits growth. But it is also disruptive if a few people in any setting are difficult just to be difficult, and can be as limiting as everyone sharing every viewpoint identically.

I asked if anyone was aware of any conflicts between Sharon Parry and Mayor Casper as Parry's guest column in the PR states it has been a 15 month erosion of the relationship between the council and mayor, with the I.F. City Council being there more for show than to help govern or advise about decisions etc. as the council use to do. Parry used a specific phrase in her writing that I omitted here on purpose. I didn't want to explain that terminology here. So it is possible my original post about this wasn't as clear about this specific question, because I used an easier word here. Additionally, per Parry, it's the entire council who is not being allowed to do what they were elected to do, not just her.

Let me ask the question a different way. We all should be getting the drift Sharon Parry and Mayor Casper don't always see the same way to complete a task. Both are accomplished, articulate women who care a lot about other people and the area. Sharon Parry has served longer and is married to an attorney. She seems to me to have a grasp of the issues, given her time on the planning committee and other committee's where she has served, such as EIRMC. I think she is probably a little older than Mayor Casper, but I am not sure. She wants all transactions to be able to stand court challenges. I don't know enough about Mayor Casper to summarize her style or thinking of how she governs. I think it is fair to say Mayor Casper is an inclusionist, tries to be diplomatic - which is understandable with her Ph.D being obtained in D.C., and seems to be trying to give City employees a voice, which they may not have had in the recent past. I've posted in a Facebook discussion where Mayor Casper entered the discussion. That was interesting experience as it wasn't a discussion the city sponsored, but it was about certain parts of life in and around Idaho Falls. She referenced herself as "Rebecca" not Mayor Casper. So perhaps Mayor Casper shows her concern for others a little more easily than Sharon Parry, at least in public.

That is part of why I asked what role is the PR playing here. Should the paper ignore conflicts as other media is doing? Or do they give them guest columns so both can write her own perspective?

IMO, Either of them would make a better Gov. than Gov. Otter! These are two highly educated, accomplished women who have raised children and probably said "NO" to their own child, one of the most difficult jobs to do for most parents. They both work hard and want to make our area better and efficient. That being written, Parry's letter is strong about not be allowed to do the work she is elected to do as well as other council members not being able to to do theirs.

Hopefully that helps clarify some.

Scott, I appreciate your response. Maybe part of what we're seeing or hearing about is a City Code that needs amended. As cities grow they tend to get more employees not less. Maybe it isn't realistic in 2015, with the 2014 estimated census showing I.F. knocking on the 60K mark with about 59,000 residents as of July, 2014, to have the council involved in employee salaries and raises. Maybe it is enough for the Mayor, Controller and H.R. to approve raises which would compensate an employee < $100,000 or a different salary limit and the council to be included for salaries over that amount. Or maybe the council shouldn't be involved with salaries at all.

What do all of you think Is the City Council's role? Would you like it to be different? If so, how would you like it to change? Everyone here, including us Idaho natives, have lived elsewhere. Did the city council members elsewhere have responsibilities you'd like the Idaho Falls City Council to have?

I see this as an ideas time. Mayor Casper and Sharon Parry will each have to make their case at the City Council meeting on 4/9/2015 for all that has occurred this padt week. But to me, given Parry's claim that the council is there mostly for show, then this discussion has to continue far beyond 4/9/2015. City council members need to know what their future role will be, IMO. I simply don't know if the previous council had to do so much more because of Mayor Fuhriman's health- - they may feel they don't have as much to do now.

Mike, I also agree this is right before large growth and the city needs to be prepared for an influx of new residents.

Lots to discuss here.....I look forward reading everyone's thoughts.

Last edited by Mtn. States Resident; 04-04-2015 at 03:40 PM..
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:00 PM
Location: Old Mother Idaho
28,150 posts, read 19,877,025 times
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I agree that either woman would make a better Governor than Butch.

I've seen many Mayors and Councils come and go. Some of our past Mayors have pretty much run the city alone without much council input or involvement, usually from a councils' lack of desire for involvement.
There are usually 2 council members who are oppositional, either between another member or the Mayor, or sometimes both. There is always at least 1 council member who wants to spend no money at all and opposes anything that may have funding involved. there is always 1 who doesn't contribute much of anything, and there are always 2 who are conciliators, who spend more time working to reconcile differences than contributing to things like the city budget or planning committees.

I've also seen council member with definite agendas that help themselves or their friends above community welfare. I haven't seen this recently, though, from 2003 on.

One of the biggest concerns came from a series of professional evaluations that were undertaken during Mayor Furihman's last years in office. The council wants more of the huge amount of money that passes through Idaho Falls to stay in town. The overall finding was I.F. wasn't making itself very inviting or interesting to our thousands of seasonal travelers who stop here on the way to the Park or elsewhere.
Mayor Furihman addressed some of easier stuff, like the new event banners that line our larger thoroughfares, and he did make our most heavily used Interstate exits more attractive, but I think he didn't go far enough in that. And while Mayor Furihman did make our directional signage better, I think it also needs to be even more and more improved than it is now.

Furihman made the right moves, but he didn't go far enough in some instances. I think Mayor Casper is intent on carrying on what Furihman began, and is trying hard to make I.F. much more visitor friendly than it is now. She's also trying to catch Idaho Falls up to the changing priorities that make a city attractive as a place to live in the 21st century, and Idaho Falls has a lot of nation-wide competition in that regard. We are still way too far car-oriented, and we still have too little accommodation for pedestrians and bikes, and our city does not lend itself well to a casual look-over by passers-through.

And although were all quite used to it, a lot of our most heavily trafficked streets are actually pretty ugly, with few green strips, a general lack of simple landscaping to make them look tidy, and some other stuff that was recommended. Boise snapped out of it and has made all it's approaches into the city a lot better looking and a lot better for traffic flow. And it's paying off for them.

All this stuff involves expense, much more community awareness and involvement, and bears some unforeseen risks and consequences. Given our inherently conservative nature, it's also going to meet opposition from some folks and some areas.
But if we intend to grow in an intelligent and purposeful way, some big changes are going to have to happen. The worst thing that can happen to Idaho Falls right now is another unexpected big boom, and Arriva could cause that to occur as soon as it gets serious. Arriva alone could do more here than Hewlett-Packard did to Boise, and it will bring a honking big bunch of brand new related businesses along with it.

I think the differences between Casper and Perry will be resolved to the point where each can get along better with the other, but they will always be at odds to some degree. Mayor Casper reminds me of Mayor Campbell, who came along at another time of great change in our town, and he had a council that was pretty hands-off. This council wants more direct say-so, obviously. I think the conciliators, whoever they are, will likely make things less scratchy soon enough. And I think that mayor and council are both on the same track, even though they may not be hitched right now into the same train of cars.

At least, I hope so. This town is too big now to have it be a one-horse rig. It now needs a team to pull it along. I just hope that the witless and needless divisions we see in our Capital building don't happen in our city leadership. Idaho Falls has the potential to be a Boise with few of Boise's problems, but only if all of us are willing to make it happen.

And Idaho Falls won't go unchallenged. Twin Falls is quite busy trying to cut it's own special niche in our state, and they are making headway. Their loss doesn't necessarily mean our gain or vice versa, but Twin is being quite competitive and aggressive in attempting to bring in new businesses.
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Old 04-05-2015, 07:40 PM
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I didn't include your great message above as these are getting long. Funny you mentioned Mayor Campbell. Yesterday when I was posting I perhaps had a Freudian slip, I wrote Campbell instead of Casper. I get the same vibe as you about Mayor Casper's style is to govern similar to Mayor Campbell. And we're not the only ones, Corey Toule mentioned it in his OpEd today. He also said Casper was wrong to go ahead on her own with salaries that high, especially because the city code mandates the council determines the salary and benefits. Sheez, Corey is a LinkedIn contact and someone I've stayed in touch with about 15 years, I should have just asked him what was up.

There is another small letter from Mayor Casper, not the 1/4 page size like Friday, saying having more review Administrators salaries was better. She wouldn't admit she made a mistake, rather simply said transparency is always best. This story also has 1/3 of the front page with what is hopefully the last story about these subjects.

Yes, there was an offer from Pasco, WA to the #2 Power Administrator. He is the one who got the second highest raise. His boss was making slightly less than him, so she was getting the 37% raise to compensate for her second in command making more than she.

Apparently, after the PR broke this news and filed the request for documents to see all the emails about this, which the PR received and included in the story. Citizens also saw the amounts of the top two and contacted Casper directly by email telling her that was too much money and more. Apparently, she answered the residents directly, but there were two many. Consequently, the PR published the Guest Columns on Friday.

The problem is Casper has now created a mess that she'll have to clean up. The PR also published the top 10 salaries of city employees. I was right, if the council approves these raises, then the city attorney is the third highest paid employee.

No offense to library lovers but I couldn't believe the library director's salary. I'm not trying to devalue the library or the person who directs it. I simply understand why the Power, Sanitation and probably planning and Zoning and other essential services should be paid more. In my mind they have to recalculate and manage for a lot of risk and many important questions everyday. The library director is making almost as much as the chief of police or chief or the fire department (within $2,000 - $5,000 difference), which are essential city services.

Where I believe Mayor Casper has created a mess is power is the only Department with administrators making between $130,000 - $170,000. Sanitation, P and Z are making about 1/3 of power and everyone knows after the top 10 salaries were published today. Maybe Casper plans to increase other Depts. in other years, IDK. I just know morale could be lacking tomorrow in some depts. after seeing some salaries.

As I mentioned earlier the PR published key parts of Sharon Perry's email to Mayor Casper, along with other key emails. I'm paraphrasing but Parry told Casper she (Casper) could add the salaries to the "work meeting" which is usually on Tuesdays and not attended by the media or public. Would Casper have listened if it was a different council member and not Sharon Perry? The PR writes the two have a "frosty relationship."

I also agree with you Mike that things slid under Mayor Fuhriman when his memory problems became more pronounced. I interjected him in the discussion not to criticize him, but to once again raise the question how much did the council have to do to make sure everything was done correctly? Fortunately the new signage is suppose to start being installed this month and next. Anyone can see it at the city's homepage.

Just my guess, but while Areva gets funding lined up, they are doing a lot of the groundwork for NuScale and Lefluor, out of Oregon on the smaller nuclear reactors NuScale would like to build at INL. If NuScale gets their Nuclear Regulatory License, work is anticipated to start in 2016. While I agree NuScale needs their own Nuclear Reg. License, Areva has their Nuclear license now. I won't be surprise if there is a merger between Lefluor and Areva to speed things up.

You are correct Mike, if the Areva plant is funded, and I think WHEN NuScale has their Nuclear license, then I think we are going to see some rapid growth in every city from Rexburg to Pocatello, with the bulk being in Idaho Falls. I think there is more than enough for Mayor Casper and the City Council to all do. And remember, Mayor Casper plans to hire a person to work as a business recruitment or ombudsman. It will be a new position in the city.

Corey Toule also wrote in his OpEd (I'm paraphrasing here), while it is hoped city Administrators can be retained, at some point salary demands may exceed what the city can pay. There is no guarantee the city can meet other obligations, and I know the council is looking at land to rebuild Fire Station #1 starting this summer or fall. A new Police Headquarters will be next. Not every salary increase can be the same as what power received.

That was a really good post, Mike. I want to recommend to everyone if you haven't done so to read Mayor Casper ' s State of the City address. It's actually very good, IMO, and she explains her priorities for the city. It's easily accessible at the city website.

Last edited by Mtn. States Resident; 04-05-2015 at 08:09 PM..
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:02 PM
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Default Mayor Casper Selects New Councilman: David Smith, CPA

Mayor Casper has chosen David Smith, CPA to fill the seat left vacant when Councilman Whittier died. I like Mayor Casper's choice and reasoning. It is a huge help to other council members, a mayor and residents when a councilman can be added who has a an accounting background.

Here's a link: Casper nominates accountant to fill council vacancy - East Idaho News | East Idaho News

I know the IF City Council had a special work meeting this evening. They approved an architect to design Fire Station # 1 and had some other business. I'm not certain if the council was asked to vote on Mr. Smith tonight or not. There is conflicting information.

Nate Sunderland (former PR reporter) who now works I guess for Riverbend Communications posted Bizmojo Idaho's Paul Menser's article about Mayor Casper's choice.

Casper nominates accountant to fill council vacancy - East Idaho News | East Idaho News

I think Bizmojo Idaho may have a little more.

It is good to have such a strong candidate, IMO, be appointed by the mayor.
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Old 04-23-2015, 01:07 AM
Location: Aiea, Hawaii
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Originally Posted by Mtn. States Resident View Post
Let me give you some more hard facts, as reported by the PR only to this point.

1. One employee would be given a 37% raise in salary to a new annual of $164,569.

2. A second employee, in the same department as the first example, was to receive a new total salary of ~ $142,000. This is about a 15 % raise.

3. Seven employees were to receive a raise of ~ $2,700 for a new total of almost $93,000. This was about a three percent increase. ($651,000)

4. And three employees were to be given about three percent increase to a new total of $103,814. ($311,442)

These 12 employees would receive a total of $1,269,011 for their annual salaries.

All of these salaries are more than $90K. Mayor Casper, the City Controller and the HR Director all signed off on memos from mid March describing the need and amounts of the increases. Mayor Casper believes this is within her power as Mayor to approve and implement the raises independent of the council. Council members Mike Leto and Ed Marohn agreed. Sharon Parry did not. She is quoted as saying, "The Mayor did not have the authority to do this."

Just to be clear these raises had not been discussed by the I. F. City Council and only will be now, on April 9th, because of Parry ' s objection.

The PR quotes the Idaho Falls City Code as written, "the City Council shall determine the salary and benefits to be paid etc." There is no mention of the Mayor authoring these raises alone.

Seeing the City Code do you think Sharon Parry is trying to be difficult or follow the laws? If your answer is the later, what hasn't clicked for Mayor Casper yet that Parry will know and quote the code so shortcuts won't be taken?

Any suggestions to the I.F. City Council and Mayor of how to resolve differences so they can work together more harmoniously in the future?
What ever happened to the Pay raises issues and the salary increases? Did the Mayor and city council agree to the pay raises?
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Old 04-23-2015, 07:59 AM
Location: Old Mother Idaho
28,150 posts, read 19,877,025 times
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Originally Posted by ScottStielow View Post
What ever happened to the Pay raises issues and the salary increases? Did the Mayor and city council agree to the pay raises?
The raises were necessary to keep most of those folks here, working for Idaho Falls Power. Our generators bring a lot of income coming in from the Bonneville Power Administration, and our people have been very efficient and have a lot of expertise in administration.
The reason why all the raises were so large was due to the possibility of a couple of our best being lured away by other power companies. None had received a raise at all for a long time, and none of the salaries was at average or above for the pay grades. The folks didn't want to leave idaho Falls, but keeping them required bringing their pay up to the regional levels.

The raises worked. None left. Experience counts in the energy business.
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Old 04-23-2015, 12:24 PM
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Mike is correct. The City Council did approve the salaries. There is a bit more to the story....

City Councilman Ed Marohn wrote what I consider a cheap shot Letter to the Editor. For a former CEO of two Fortune 500 businesses, I was surprised he couldn't communicate with tact, not an attack on Sharon Parry.

Apparently, the Post Register editors shared my feeling stating how much safer it was for citizens and the city to have the Sharon Parry's of the world insist on following the city code. Can no one else remember Kimball Mason or former City Attorney Dale Storer's billing practices? So much had to be done to clean up and make public what those two use to just do. IMO, hiring a full-time City Attorney has been a plus.

It is always good to have someone want to know more, IMO. Those keeping secrets never start out wanting to do bad things to hurt others let alone their own self. Mayor Casper had the HR Director and City Attorney who were aware of what she was doing; however, they are not elected by voters to authorize salary changes.

Next, local attorney and husband of Sharon Parry, Steve Parry wrote a letter to the editor, which his wife did not know about. He absolutely addressed the tone of Mahoran's letter. Furthermore, Steve Parry shared his view of why steps can't be omitted. Much information which helps those who govern comes from the process of talking openly about plans and changes in the city be it salaries or other decisions.

Most recently, the City Council met three days ago for a work session. Besides some redevelopment issues, updates to the city code were on the agenda. There were over 200 pages. Most are probably more minor updating Dept. To Division etc., but I honestly didn't read all proposed changes. We'll know more from the minutes.

I join Steve Parry. It isn't always pretty but it is best to air any small problems in public. I don't think anyone wants another Kimball Mason.
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Old 04-23-2015, 11:14 PM
Location: Old Mother Idaho
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Yup, a council member or two like Perry are a necessity. Sharon's personality is a bit scratchy and rough, and the council is fairly new- there isn't a lot of seniority to smooth out the friction yet. I think they all over-reacted some, but Sharon did the right thing.
So did the Mayor. She moved quickly enough to avoid the loss of a very important city employee, but part of her job is to move that quickly with full transparency, with the agreement of the council helping her decisions. All sides came out with a learning experience and potential damage to a major city department was avoided. That's the best outcome of all.

I've never seen a mayor and council yet who didn't learn how to get along pretty well, and I've seen plenty of rocky starts, but I have yet to see a council deadlocked permanently, or a mayor who became a little dictator.

Our city government has made many personnel mistakes in the past, some grievous, some not so much, and I've seen councils where a small group was in cahoots with some preferential scheme or other, but so far, none have not remained uncorrected for too long. More importantly, the mistakes have been fewer than the triumphs. We have a lot more to brag about than regret.

Kimball Mason was the exception, but he was an exception in many ways; he was the first lawyer who had never worked outside our city/county government ever, except for a few months as a rank beginner fresh out of law school. In one capacity or another Mason's only job was in our local government throughout a 20+ year career, and his gun obsession and its resultant crimes grew very gradually over that time. He didn't start out crooked, and did a good job for us in the city and the county for a long time. He isn't the first nor the last individual who let his weaknesses get the best of him, but he is also a cautionary lesson of what can happen when an official has been in the job too long.

Idaho Falls is learning how to become a real city. We and our government had a small town mentality for a very long time, and learning the requirements of a city needs that a small town does not often takes longer than the building of a city. I think we are now much more aware of our need for the best professionals we can afford, even when hiring them may not be the cheapest employees to hire.

We are also lucky that so many excellent city employees, past and present, have been home grown and like living here. It's a good thing that the voters of idaho Falls have never been so complacent that they have allowed systemic corruption to set in. That's the real danger of living in a town like Idaho Falls.

Last edited by banjomike; 04-23-2015 at 11:29 PM..
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:02 AM
Location: Aiea, Hawaii
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Good enough. It is tough now days to keep good people in a important Positions. Just curious how it all worked out. Thanks for the information.
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Old 06-23-2015, 09:19 PM
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Idaho Falls has listed the bid for Fire Station # 1. I'll be excited to get a new F.S. # 1 built downtown

Last edited by Mtn. States Resident; 06-23-2015 at 10:30 PM..
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