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Boise Mayor McLean visited Morning Edition to talk housing, cops, jobs, abortion and more

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean
City of Boise
Boise Mayor Lauren McLean

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean says she’d “like nothing more than to weigh in” on controversial rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court. But that’s not going to stop her, she says, from making clear that a number of those decisions directly impact Boise.

“When I knock on doors and talk to our residents, I’ve talked to moms whose daughters have moved away and aren’t going to come back until they’re done having kids, because they’re not sure whether or not it’s safe to be pregnant in Idaho,” said McLean. “And in Boise, I’m talking with doctors who are leaving or are deeply considering their next steps.”

McLean weighed in on the high court’s recent ruling concerning Idaho’s abortion ban and how it conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA. In a wide-ranging conversation with Morning Edition host George Prentice, McLean also discussed another SCOTUS decision – Johnson v. Grants Pass – plus, housing, jobs, law enforcement and much more.

Housing

The Idaho Community Foundation will cover the costs of services people need when exiting homelessness into a home.

"We have great public private partnerships that are making housing for folks exiting homelessness," said McLean. "Think families will have the chance to live at Park Apartments? Folks with medical needs ultimately will have homes near Fire Station five, and this summer we're breaking ground on New Path 2.0, a place for 95 people exiting homelessness into homes of their own."

The Foundation will cover the costs of services to keep people housed and on the road to self-sufficiency.

Johnson v. Grants Pass

This ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court essentially bans people from sleeping in public spaces. McLean says the city has to be focused on long-term solutions and the root causes of issues related to homelessness.

"What solves this problem is the great collaborative work and solutions focus that Boiseans have had in the last six years, and will continue to have to bring homes to market for folks from all walks of life to support the organizations that are rapidly rehousing families."

McLean went on to say that Boise isn't making the mistakes that other cities have made in regards to homelessness.

Abortion in Boise and Idaho

Abortion in Idaho remains a hot topic, especially after the recent EMTALA ruling from SCOTUS. McLean has not been shy when weighing in on the topic, and said the decision on personal medical issues, emergency or not, are to be made between families and their doctors.

"With government having no space, no room in that conversation, no place in that conversation," said McLean. "And it's for that reason that the city said we would not waste resources on investigating accusations of abortions."

The opinion from SCOTUS does not rule on the merit of the case but sends the case back to lower courts. This 6-3 ruling vacates the previous stay and sends the case back to the Ninth Circuit which will decide on the outcome.

CHIPS Implementation Task Force

McLean was chosen to chair the CHIPS Implementation Task Force in June of this year. The CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) and Science Act was signed into law in August 2022 and is intended to get microchip manufacturing back to the United States.

Axios reports the task force will "provide mayors in other key cities opportunities for collaboration to address supply chain issues and scale effective strategies for sustainable chip industry development."

The act made an investment in Boise-based Micron, but McLean said it will also open doors to make sure the city is working with universities, community colleges and labor unions to create training programs in this field.

The search for a new police chief

Mayor McLean said they will be announcing the finalists for the Boise Police Chief position within the next week and there will be plenty of opportunities for community members to engage with the finalists.

Right now there are about 34 vacancies within the police department, with 25 officers set to be hired and join the police academy this month. McLean said they have been very intentional during the hiring process and the current police chief Ron Winegar has been working to find to find the right people to be in these roles.

"It is so important to continue to see crime rates go down, to continue to see the trust and relationship between our officers and residents remain strong, because that's what keeps those links between the officers that we are hiring and the residents they serve, well," said McLean.

Find reporter George Prentice @georgepren

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