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Meeting Minutes
August 25, 2008

Attendees

  • Phil Bandy
  • John Bechtel
  • Tom Dale
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • Scott Dowdy
  • John Evans
  • David Ferdinand
  • Brad Holton
  • Nate Mitchell
  • Garret Nancolas
  • Margie Watson
  • Paul Wood
  • Tom Dale
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • Scott Dowdy
  • John Evans
  • David Ferdinand
  • Brad Holton
  • Nate Mitchell
  • Garret Nancolas
  • Margie Watson
  • Paul Wood

Staff and Guests

  • Rafael Gonzalez – U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • Christian Nafzger – U.S. Attorney’s Office (SAUSA Project Employee)
  • Bill Larsen – Staff

Garret Nancolas opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to Caldwell. He asked everyone to join him in a short walk along Indian Creek at the end of the meeting.

Bill asked to add a discussion on the retreat to the beginning of the meeting. He indicated that there had been a request by Mayor Bieter to adjust the schedule of the retreat to enable him to participate on Friday. Bill stated that there was an ability to move the open forum session and the discussion on ozone control measures to Friday.

Tammy de Weerd indicated that she had already made plans for Friday afternoon that she cannot get out of. Margie Watson and Tom Dale stated that they also had commitments on Friday afternoon. Several other members indicated that this would conflict with their schedules as well. Paul suggested that maybe we could move the Thursday morning agenda to Thursday evening.

Mayor Watson made a motion to move the Thursday morning session to Thursday evening. Brad Holton seconded. Motion carried.

Garret introduced Rafael Gonzales and Christian Nafzger to talk about the SAUSA Project. Christian pointed out the final section of his report, which showed the individuals set for sentencing. He indicated that several of the people awaiting sentencing are expected to receive 10-20 years of prison. They were bigger targets and the leaders of particular gangs. The level of cases are trending upward and are bigger players in the local gangs.

Christian indicated they have added a new FBI agent in the Metro Task Force and this individual is making inroads into generating larger cases.

Phil asked about the 91% conviction rate and how it relates to similar positions around the country. Christian indicated that in Federal court he has a bigger hammer and people are more willing to roll over with their testimony.

Rafael mentioned that Christian’s conviction rate is quite a bit higher than similar positions around the country. He stated that the TVP’s involvement is unique around the country. He added that our SAUSA program for gang and gun crimes has been by and large the most successful program in the country. Christian has been taking some cases that are weaker than would normally be prosecuted and has been successful.

Paul asked where we were with regard to moving the SAUSA Program from Owyhee County to another County. Christian stated that Matthew Faulks is not running for reelection in Owyhee County and added that the individual running for Prosecutor for Canyon County has stated publicly that he wanted to move the SAUSA position to Canyon County.

Tom stated the time-line dictates what we do. He felt that Owyhee County has committed to hold on to the SAUSA Project till January when the new Canyon County Prosecutor is in office. It would seem impossible to do anything until that time.

Tammy noticed that there might be a trend of arrests in some of the smaller towns in the valley and asked what Christian has noticed in this regard. Christian mentioned that these people are arrested where they are operating out of and this may not be where they live. Margie pointed out arrests in Payette County. Christian indicated that there have been arrests in smaller communities but the individuals live in the bigger communities. He added that the smaller communities and communities outside of the Treasure Valley are aware of Christian’s activities and are cooperating in targeting the individuals that are operating in their communities.

Garret pointed to the projected savings to the State as a result of the program and said it would make for a real great article. Tom volunteered that he would put together a press release on the program. Christian cautioned that the statistics that Bill puts together are not the complete story as there are State costs associated with the Federal Prosecution of these gang criminals such as housing while the individual awaits trial. Additionally, these individuals often time do receive credit for time served while awaiting trial.

Brad added that because this is such a positive, we should be having an article in the local papers as often as possible. Christian pointed out that he has been sending out press releases on some of the high-profile cases and that he has noticed a drop off in the coverage by the press.

Garret stated that a couple of years ago, a photograph surfaced that included 12 individuals in the South-side gang. His police officers have been putting x’s through those that have been prosecuted and now about eight of the twelve included in the photograph have been prosecuted and shipped out of State.

Rafael asked if there was any movement with the State to moving this program to the State. Tom stated there have been some conversations with regard to lobbying the State to get them to pick up the program. There was a concern that if we did this we would run the risk of loosing the Treasure Valley focus of the program. Rafael mentioned that the U.S. Attorney’s office has Prosecutors operating in the Northern Office and the Eastern Office. True, if the State funded it, the person would be assigned to the Southern Office and there would be a little more focus on the Twin Falls area than there is now. But the person would still be working from Twin Falls to New Plymouth. He added that the targets of these prosecutions do not have boundaries and their operations do span the southwestern part of the state.

Christian felt that focus would always be on the urbanized Treasure Valley area because this is where these individuals are. He said that there would be a small amount of focus shift from the Treasure Valley to include the Twin Falls area. But he added that there would much of a significant shift due to the population center would insure that 90% plus of the cases would still focus on the Treasure Valley.

Tom said, with this in mind, maybe it is time we start talking to the legislature to craft a bill to get the State to step up to the plate and wholly fund the position. Margie, felt we needed to jump on this and get the State to fund this program. Garret mentioned he would start talking to local legislators to include Sen. John McGee. It was agreed that each member would start talking to local legislators to generate a bill to have the State sponsor this program. John cautioned about the Northern and Eastern Idaho legislators being concerned that the focus of the program being the Treasure Valley. Brad added that maybe we could push the State to fund three SAUSA’s.

Rafael stated that they have three prosecutors in Northern Idaho and three in Eastern Idaho and that you could not really make the case there is a need, from the perspective of the U.S. Attorney’s office, that there is a need in the other regions of the State. Also, the magnitude of gang activity in the other regions of the State is not as large as the Treasure Valley. However, there would be no bar from Christian taking on cases in other parts of the State. However, because of the distances involved, it would not make sense for the U.S. Attorney’s office to have Christian (operating out of the SW Region) prosecute a case in Idaho Falls or Coeurd’ Alene and they would have someone from these regional offices pick up the case.

Garret mentioned that Canyon County Mayors and Commissioners will be receiving a letter from him regarding air quality and basically asked the questions, what are we going to do to get this ozone problem under control? We want to make sure that folks in Canyon County get involved so we can develop some solutions that work. The consequences of non-attainment are bad.

Project Managers Report

Bill pointed to a hand out which details the member activities on the Covered Load Ordinance. He mentioned that Wilder and Parma have met and are awaiting a decision from Canyon County before they act on the Ordinance. Garret mentioned that the City of Caldwell had passed the Ordinance the previous week.

David stated that Canyon County has been looking at the Ordinance. They met with all of the highway districts in Canyon County and feels that their questions were answered. He added that with loads having an adequate amount of freeboard, there would not necessarily be a need to cover the load. David said they were thinking of renaming the ordinance to “Contained Load” ordinance. This has helped alleviate their concerns. They had a lot of comments from businesses revolving around the costs of covering the vehicles.

Paul stated that ACHD just passed this ordinance. Additionally, prior to this ordinance, law enforcement had to refer to an obscure State Statute. The report’s he has received from local law enforcement is that this ordinance more clearly defines the ability to cite someone for having material escape from the vehicle.

Margie mentioned that they had employee that was killed the previous week due to an unsecured load. A person was hauling a load of wood and several logs rolled off and a person was killed. David, mentioned that he had a law enforcement officer involved with his meeting with the highway district and they felt that the language of the ordinance would cover such an incidence.

Tom moved to approve the minutes and financial report. Margie seconded. Motion approved. Tammy asked if Bill could prepare the financial report ahead of time to ensure the members had adequate time to review the expenditures for the month. Bill said he would attempt to get this out earlier.

Paul stated that Idaho Power is looking to meet its capacity needs by running transmission lines in from Portland and Wyoming. They have been having some meetings on how they are going to go about permitting these new transmission lines. Some counties are doing a conditional use permit; others have no ordinance at all. As they went to permit one section in Eastern Oregon, there were a lot of mistakes.

By statute, we can form planning and zoning commissions across county lines. And they are looking at doing this just for this process. He just wanted point out this is a key issue, as members would be confronting this as these transmission lines come through the valley.

Paul brought up a huge issue for the members. The irrigators have filed in the Snake River Adjudication regarding restricting the discharge of wastewater into the Boise River. He encourages everyone that discharges in to the Boise River to keep up on the case and be aware that this is happening. The Corps has that $175,000 that provides a better opportunity to have a look better flood control and study storage opportunities. Brad added that he felt the Ag community does not have a clue with respect to what is going on with this issue.

Tammy asked that Paul send out a summary with regard to this issue so the members could alert their staff to this issue. She would like to bring up one additional issue to be a future agenda item regarding drilling practices for water quality. Ed Squires could come in and give a presentation on what this would mean to municipal water supplies.

Garret mentioned that the consequences of the Phosphorous ruling have the potential to cost this valley a great deal of money. The main source of phosphorous is non-point sources. But the point sources are whom they can regulate. Tom felt that we should go together to talk to our congressional delegation and get our voices heard with regard to the costs associated with this ruling.

Meeting adjourned.