Elected officials working
together to positively
manage community
growth.

Meeting Minutes
October 26, 2015

Attendees

  • Kelly Aberasturi
  • John Bechtel
  • Tammy de Weerd
  • John Evans
  • Bob Henry
  • Brad Holton
  • Nathan Leigh
  • Greg Nelson
  • Jim Reynolds
  • Steve Rule
  • Darin Taylor
  • Rick Yzaguirre

Staff and Guests

  • Rick Allen – Chief of Police, Garden City
  • Darrel T. Anderson, the President and Chief Executive Officer, IDACORP, Inc. and Idaho Power
  • Dave Case – Ada County Commissioner
  • Sarah Draper – Joint Terrorism Task Force Coordinator, FBI
  • Ron Freeman – Chief Deputy, Ada County Sheriff
  • Doug Hart – Supervising Special Agent, FBI
  • Jeff Lavey – Chief of Police, City of Meridian
  • Phil McGrane – Chief Deputy, Court/Auditor/Recorder – Ada County
  • Bill Shawver – Communications Director, Idaho Power
  • Lynette Standley – Communications Leader, Idaho Power
  • Bill Larsen – Treasure Valley Partnership

Just Drive Press Event

On behalf of Idaho Power, Darrel T. Anderson thanked the members of the Partnership for taking up the Just Drive challenge. His goal is if we can save one life with this challenge, then the campaign is successful.

Tammy said, when we sign this Just Drive challenge, we need to take it serious. We need to take it back to our Cities and Counties and make sure we have policies in place in our jurisdictional fleets making sure they are text free. Idaho Power has been a true leader in this Just Drive Campaign. It is not just talk. They are walking the walk. She said, the City of Meridian went in and made sure their policies backed up what they are saying. That is no texting and driving.

Pledge to Just Drive for Safer Idaho Roads

Tammy read the following statement for the press event.Just Drive Challenge

Few things symbolize our mobile lifestyle more than our vehicles, our mobile devices and our network of public roads and highways. Together they enable us to take our lives here in the Treasure Valley in almost any direction we choose. Unfortunately, when using our mobile devices while driving, we greatly increase the chances of injury or death. Distracted driving due to mobile device use is now the fastest-growing cause of fatal traffic crashes in Idaho. Every one of us depends on a network of safe public roads and highways. Therefore each one of us must do our part to keep our roads safe.

Today, the Treasure Valley Partnership accepts the Just Drive challenge by individually and collectively making the commitment to drive distraction-free.

We pledge to:

Protect lives by never texting and remaining distraction free while driving.
Be a good passenger and speak out if the driver of our vehicle is distracted.
Encourage our friends, our families and everyone in the Treasure Valley to drive distraction free.

In coordination with the camera’s the Partnership together, said “Just Drive”.

Visit KTVB on Facebook to Sign the Pledge.

Meeting

Commissioner Yzaguirre opened the meeting and welcomed everyone to the Ada County Elections facility. He said, we will hear a lot more about this facility from Phil McGrane. He will share some of our new technologies and what they are going to have on-line for our Presidential elections next year.

Rick introduced Chris Rich – Clerk/Auditor/Recorder for Ada County. Rick said if you’re an elected official in Ada County, this is the most important room for you. This is where you get your authority as an elected official to do the job you do. We take very seriously the accurate counting of the vote.

Phil McGrane said we have a lot going in elections with the city elections coming up. Ever since the hanging chad incident, elections have been a huge priority across the nation. A huge amount of money has invested following that incident. There have been a lot of regulatory changes both nationally and State-wide.

This facility is an old manufacturing facility that was retrofitted. There are a lot of functions such as drug court, driver’s license, motor vehicle, juvenile and other services being served out of this building and we are getting to the point of capacity at this moment.

He mentioned at the end of the TVP meeting he will be offering tours of the facility.

For those of you that interact with the courts, they have a huge warehouse just across the parking lot where they house the court files. They are digitizing court files on a daily basis. They are constantly trying to outpace the incoming files. At any point in time, they have over half a million court files on hand waiting to be digitized.

This meeting space your in is always open to the public so they can wander in freely and inspect what they are doing. Transparency is one of the key things they pride their selves in. From this room on election night, someone can monitor a ballot from when it enters the building to when it is tabulated. You will notice there is a big bank of indoor windows. The ballot tabulation equipment is on the other side. Plus there are two cameras that feed into this room from the warehouse space, and there are seven web cams installed throughout so the public can monitor the election tabulation process.

Running elections is like planning a wedding. It is a huge one-day event. Boise State during a big game will process somewhere around 39,000 fans with another 10,000 tailgating. They have to process parking, ticketing etc. Phil anticipates next November they will process between 170-180,000 people at their 145 locations. They have to have the parking, processes and supplies in place because everyone expects perfection.

They will use about 1,500 temporary workers to run that election. Most of those are poll workers and they have to receive training. This room doubles as a training center for those trainings and this room will hold about 50 people.

Next November during the Presidential election they will be up till early in the morning counting votes. The equipment they have is getting incredibly old. So they developed a two year plan last year to change the way they operate. They created a new position, Elections Director that will be overseeing the day-to-day operations for the office.

They just got done working with Mayor Tammy and the Commissioners and expanded their early voting operations. They see this as a huge opportunity. Technology has allowed them in elections to do things that previously weren’t possible. Right next door is their main early voting location? If you come in, it doesn’t matter where you are from in Ada County, they can print your ballot on demand. This was a huge transition for them.

During the primary election, they have had up to 575 different ballot styles. That meant they had 575 different slots where poll workers would have to go to in order to get an individual their correct ballot.

Ballots are extremely expensive. This is becoming a big issue for all county clerks around the State. Under their current election, a ballot will cost 32cents per page ad a lot of times there is at least two pages. So they end up throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars when people don’t vote.

Expanding early voting is something they see for the future here in the Treasure Valley. It is the most secure method of voting, because of the online capability they have.

Tammy wanted to thank Chris and Phil for the early voting in Meridian. They have Eagle, Kuna and other residents voting in Meridian and it has been real popular. Phil said they have already seen an increase in early voting and expects this trend to continue.

Kelly asked how secure the system is. Phil said their system uses an optical scan method that is really secure and if they don’t identify that you have already voted at the polling station through the optical scan technology, they will catch it on the back end through the use of other systems. Recently they had a person vote in Mountain Home, this person then drove to Boise and registered to vote in Boise. After the fact, when they go through the vote, their system caught this particular case.

Rick asked, if he made an error where he marked more than one candidate, and the system asked if he wanted to change his vote and he said no, what would it do to his ballot. Phil said more than likely, because they system thinks there was more than one vote, it would not count the vote for that one race.

Phil said, if you mark a write-in candidate, the system doesn’t read the write-in. The system will flag that ballot as a write in and someone has to go in and read that one.

Open Discussion

Results of Strategic Planning Meeting

Rick said the turnout wasn’t great and hasn’t been the last two or three years. He thinks the Strategic Planning meeting is time well spent. His message is maybe the location or timing needs to be adjusted. Tammy said thank you to Bill for the agenda he put together. We had some really good presentations on some weighty topics that are important to our valley. Tammy wanted to hear from those that weren’t there.

Steve said it was a timing issue for him as it conflicted with his grandson’s birthday. Kelly said it came during harvest and it would be impossible for him to attend during that time of the year.

Darin said this meeting was one he really appreciates and it is invaluable for him.

Rick said the biggest thing for him when he became a new Mayor a long time ago; he got the opportunity to meet and get to know other elected officials in a casual environment with no staff, phones or media.

Bob said as the new kid on the block, the Strategic Planning Meeting was really helpful. Jim echoed this sentiment.

Tammy said going out of town keeps her from doing other things and believes this is important to do. We are all busy and getting out of town helps you to not get sucked in by the regular stuff that happens.

Greg said they have not been active in the Strategic Planning meeting. It doesn’t have anything to do with the content or venue, their nonparticipation has everything to do with local politics. This year, they did send a council member and the word was it was well worth it.

Legislative Session

John said they have been actively involved with the interim committee on urban renewal. They have had a couple sessions and he will be surprised if we see any comprehensive changes. He thinks we have some allies in Senator Siddoway and Representative Youngblood.

Water call related issues that are happening in our area is another topic that we need to keep our eye on.

Tammy said new construction issues will come back around again. We need to be able to communicate what that new construction money is being used for and why it was put into place to begin with.

Rick said from a county perspective, they are also watching urban renewal. One of the big things on their radar screen is the public defender issue and how that service is provided across the state. They are real happy with their public defender system and don’t want to see it change, but recognize that smaller jurisdictions will be pushing for changes.

Steve said that there might be an excellent chance that Canyon County will be joining the ACLU in suing the State to get some adequate funding for this system.

Terrorism in the Treasure Valley

Rick introduced Doug Hart and Sarah Draper. Doug thanked the Partnership for the invite. He especially wanted to thank the Partnership as he has served as the Task Force Coordinator for the Treasure Valley Metro Violent Crime Task Force since 2008. They have been the direct beneficiary of the SAUSA Program. These cooperative/collaborative efforts are second to none. He said with absolute certainty, absent this program, the level of violent crime in the Treasure Valley would be different.

Today we want to talk about the threats we face. It seems these days; we can’t say what we need to say for fear of offending someone or being labeled racist or biased. The first thing he likes to say when talking about terrorism is acknowledgment. In the FBI, they are not seeking to create an atmosphere of fear. If we are going to talk about solutions, that can’t take place until we acknowledge that threats do exist and where they come from. When identifying where threats come from, we have to talk about a subset of our society. That isn’t biased. That isn’t racist. It is what it is.

Sarah said terrorism is wide and varied in scope. None of this is based on fear or bias it is based people using violence for political or social objectives. When we talk international terrorism, there is membership or support for a foreign terrorist organization.

When she talks about terrorism, she uses the term extremism. For them extremism means violence. The different types of extremism they see are;

Militia extremism – It is extremism for political or social gain. It is not membership in a militia that is the issue. It is the use of violence.

Animal rights or Environmental extremism – It is not the issue to be an animal rights activist, but the use of force or violence towards these goals is the issue.

ISIL – ISIL is a big concern nationwide. They are at an elevated concern level nationwide and in the Treasure Valley because we have pockets of individuals that come in that are more apt to be coerced, extorted or recruited and radicalized. A lot of this stuff is happening online.

They have subsets of the population they pay attention to. Not because of their religion, where they come from or what they do on the weekends, but because of the force or violence for political or social goals.

Doug said he believes the interest from the people in the room would be threats that would result in harming of our citizens. We can’t discount the other threats that come from other places such as cyber terrorism that are real issues. Also in the Treasure Valley, we have a proliferation of regular criminal activity such as financial crimes. In addition, we are seeing an increase in the number of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Sarah said there is a big elevation of threats nationwide. But awareness is also elevated. Their big job is being knowledgeable about and preventing something that you can’t count. If nothing happens that is success. Figuring out what is being planned or plotted, before it happens requires everyone’s awareness of what right looks like. Knowing who to talk to and getting this information in the right hands is a big plus.

Sarah mentioned they had an incident this last summer where they had a trial conviction of an Uzbekistan refugee that came to Boise as a refugee. He had been radicalized and was plotting to commit terrorist acts. This is a good example of a threat that can exist in any community and it does exist right here.

Doug said he wanted to emphasize there is an impression that it can’t happen here. In this case, he was planning an act of terrorism in the Treasure Valley. They did a covert search of his residence and photographed all the bomb making materials that he had compiled. He was targeting parades and was considering some of our military installations. This case broke in 2012 and they arrested him May of 2013. The Boise office had up to 70 agents working that case where their staff normally consists of 15 employees. They had six full-time surveillances at one time with the goal of protecting the people.

Boise and Twin Falls are refugee location centers. He doesn’t believe that this particular individual is reflective of the refugee population. We have somewhere near 15,000 refugees in Boise, if he were to quantify the number of open investigations that involve the refugee population, it would be a fraction of a percent. It is very, very small.

We also have cases of people who are radicalized that were born and raised here. They just responded to an incident in Bingham County where an individual had several destructive devices he had constructed and had plans in place to conduct an attack.

You are probably aware of a recent school shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. Doug asked if anyone had an idea of the number or school shootings or active shooters. Many of them qualify as domestic terrorism. The FBI just concluded a study. From 2000-2013, there were 160 incidents of what they would term active shooters. For the first seven years of that study they averaged 6 per year. From 2007-2013 they averaged 16 per year. Nearly 500 people were killed in those 160 incidents.

The vast majority of the school shootings was home-grown problems and had nothing to do with international terrorism. When we are talking about threats we are not talking about something that comes from our foreign student population or comes from our refugee population, they can come from literally anywhere. Therefore, we cannot go into our analysis of threats with any preconceived notion.

Doug said their workload on the joint terrorism task force has doubled this year. Their personnel have decreased. He sees this as good and bad. On the good side, they are getting a better information flow. They are capturing more information that gives them more work. But, they are also entering into an era where people are getting disenchanted and their response in many cases is to commit mass murder.

They try to focus on emerging threats. They have a vast network of informants and rely on them to provide them with information on threats. They conduct undercover operations and try to do anything they can to identify a threat before there is an attack. They rely a great deal on the sharing of information and on collaborative relationships. This is where folks such as the members of the Partnership come into play. One of the critical issues to their success on the Joint Terrorism Task force is having full-time task force members. They have one from Homeland Security and one from Ada County. They are hoping to get one from the City of Boise. These folks are invaluable in they carry a full caseload and also act as conduits for information. They go back and forth to their departments, to the officers on the street and it increases their access to those agencies.

In order to try to push out information, Sarah has worked very hard to invite 30+ counties to participate in a monthly meeting. They use their liaison personnel from these counties to get information out. Having these collaborative relationships is critically important for them.

They have been focusing on having discussions with Mayors, County Commissioners and other political leaders. There are a perception that law enforcement is a solution for combatting terrorism. Law enforcement’s primary job is intervention. That means essentially stopping it from happening and putting the bad guy in jail. When we are talking about community solutions, law enforcement is not the only solution. The rest of society’s community systems need to be involved.

Sarah said there are 130 Joint Terrorism Task Forces in the nation. All the success they have had since 9/11 is due to the partnerships they have developed across the country. If anyone is interested in your community participating as a partner in this effort, she encouraged everyone to contact them.

Bob said he has heard that we are going to release some 6,000 federal prisoners from drug related crimes. And in the next several years it is project to be some 40,000 such folks. Doug said federal law enforcement used to be the big hammer for drug offenses. And you’re still going to get a bigger sentence under the federal system and the State of Idaho won’t bear the cost of that. Legislatively, across the board on the federal side, they have reduced drug sentences. On the federal side, there isn’t going to be this early release, his understanding is the big release is going to come from State jurisdictions. There are a fairly significant number of non-violent drug offenses that are going to get early release to clear out some of the space in State prisons.

On the Federal side, Doug said you are going to see less time given to the nonviolent drug offenders. The benefit on the Federal side is they have mandatory minimum sentences. So you’re still going to hit your gang members and violent offenders with mandatory minimum sentences. Nonviolent offenders and non-gang members are going to get the benefit of reduced sentencing. Everything we do through the SAUSA Program is still going to have the mandatory minimums.

Jim said it seems to him that one issue here is assimilation. Whether you are talking about the kid who is isolated in his mom’s basement or the motorcycle gangs that have drawn together because they have been isolated from society, from the reading he has done these groups are not easily assimilated into society. That being the case, they would be a ripe ground for recruitment from terrorism groups. Without spying on everyone, is there a way we can measure the assimilation of these groups.

Doug said there is a great case study in the City of Minneapolis. They have a large Somali population. ISIL has been actively recruiting from the Somali population and Minneapolis has had multiple federal prosecutions for terrorism crimes out of that refugee population. They are just now trying to catch up and work on assimilation with things such as after school programs. They are asking what they are doing as a community to address this issue. They are proactively creating programs that would assist in making that recruitment less likely to take place or be successful. Those concerns are something they (FBI) share.

They know that ISIL is actively recruiting Saudi students studying abroad. He is not aware of a single program, certainly in the State of Idaho, where anybody talks to these Saudi’s about recruiting from radical groups. We have over 100,000 Saudi students in the nation. Even if there were a small percentage of this group that was susceptible to that recruitment, we would have a big problem. This is what he is talking about, the need for communities to help with the assimilation of these foreign students into our society.

Jeff Lavey said we have been talking about the refugee or foreign national side, when we are talking about the local community, the bigger threat in his opinion is the isolated white male kid that is doing crazy things. They can’t be wrong, not even once. So they go in as law enforcement and hammer this as much as they can. Then they are criticized when the kids says he was only joking. This is what happens to a lot of schools that people didn’t take it serious. What are doing as a community to reach out to these kids to hold them accountable and to also get them some help?

Doug said, statistically speaking you are correct. You’re more likely to have an active shooter incident from this population. The FBI is pushing out a program for active shooter management and response. What Chief Lavey is talking about is the prevention part of this. He can’t get into all the schools to provide that support. This is on our communities. We have to be aggressive in this regard.

Steve asked for examples of successful programs for this type of concern. Doug said there are several of them. If we can identify at-risk individuals then we can take steps to mitigate that risk whether it is through mental health services, or community engagement programs. Most of the off-ramps they talk about are community engagement initiatives. Whether it is the Minneapolis program where they target their Somali population or after school programs, community engagement programs are very important.

Sarah said figuring out how to identify the people that are having difficulty assimilating into society and having a community based program to address this problem is a big key. This is the one that worries people she has talked to.

Greg said he represents a City that is raising blood pressure throughout the State. It is all over the fact there is a Mosque being considered in the area. No one has put out a release that the Kuwaiti News Service is named KUNA. News coming out from the Middle East has a byline with KUNA on it. So they get all this hostility that they are a Muslim enclave.

Jeff Lavey said we are a much safer community because of this cooperation and collaboration. If there are behaviors out there that are drawing attention, there are mechanisms in place that the information gets in the hands of the right people. Years ago this wasn’t the case.

Tammy said there are two things. Right now at the federal level they are addressing drones. You talk about photographs and drones are flying over facilities and there is nothing you can do about it. This is a growing concern when you think about sewer plants or water treatment facilities. The second piece is as elected officials when we consider what is going on in schools, our law enforcement officials are able to deal with the issue, but the elected officials need to back them up. Law enforcement needs to know they can respond how they need to and the elected officials will take the heat or fallout that happens. We have to work together on this and we have to make sure we are hearing what the SRO’s and law enforcement officials are seeing.

Doug reiterated that they want to be partners with the members of the Partnership and they will come out and participate when any of the members want their assistance down the road.

Meeting Wrap-up

Darin moved to approve the minutes and financial report. Bob seconded. Motion approved.

Darin said the issue of high-capacity transportation was raised at the last COMPASS meeting. He wants to have a conversation in the future about this. It seems to him the two groups that are likely to take the leadership are either the Treasure Valley Partnership and/or COMPASS and he would like to have discussions on this subject down the road. Middleton, right now is a town of 6,000 people and the forecast is for 85,000. This valley is estimated to have over 2,000,000 people at build out. The question is not if, it is when. He feels we need to start now in identifying the high points and get the ball started on building some sort of solution.

Bill said that there is an example of the membership dues invoices that will be going out this week. Also, he is hoping to have by the November meeting a more detailed analysis of costs being avoided by the State through the SAUSA Program. He has been working with the IT Dept. with the IDOC and feels that very soon he will have some better figures including the savings occurring with the State Probation and Parole. He mentioned that he should be hearing what the budget allocations for the SAUSA Program will be as Department budgets are due to be out.

Meeting adjourned.