The Greater Boise Auditorium District has lost two elections and now an Idaho Supreme Court Decision in its efforts to build a convention center the public clearly does not support.
Thursday the high court ruled the G-BAD could not use public moneys for the purposes of influencing the outcome of an election. The suit was brought by AmeriTel Inns of Boise which said construction of a proposed convention center and a potential increase in a hotel room tax would adversely effect their business.
When an individual citizen filed a similar complaint, a Fourth District judge held that since no adverse effect could be shown by an individual citizen who did not suffer a loss for which the court could grant relief, the case could not proceed.
The G-BAD argued in the case with the citizen (the GUARDIAN editor) that it was OK to use public moneys for promoting the convention center because they were in the business of “promoting convention business.”
The GUARDIAN notes that schools are in the business of “promoting education,” but that doesn’t mean they can use public money to push a bond election. While the GUARDIAN editor was denied a chance to fight the G-BAD battle, the merits of the case were indeed upheld–you don’t spend the public’s money to advertise one side of an election.
AmeriTel, in its case, was able to show a potential loss and was allowed to proceed. However, the District Court ruled it was OK for the Auditorium District to use public funds to advocate a new convention center during a bond election. Ameritel appealed to the Supremes.
In their ruling, the Supremes sent the case back to Judge Cheri Copsey to make a determination whether or not the advertising and brochures constituted advocacy of a new convention center or was merely “informational.” The Supremes were clear that public funds should not be used to campaign on any issue. They did not rule on the nature of the brochures and information.
The sad thing is G-BAD has spent tens of thousands of public dollars in their ill fated attempts, much of it in the associated legal fees. Now they have to pay the costs for AmeriTel’s appeal as well, according to the Supremes decision. They may also have to pay additional attorney fees.
Meanwhile the G-BAD has made public a scam to have a private developer build the convention center, then lease it back to the G-BAD and go around the public bond election process. We will keep you posted.
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