The GUARDIAN has obtained more information about the taxpayer funded party set for Thursday evening to curry favor with legislators to advance their “agenda” in the Idaho Legislature.
While the invitation sent to COMPASS members said “We will have heavy hors d’oeuvres and a hosted bar,” we have learned from COMPASS executive director Matt Stoll that an outfit called HDR will pick up the bar tab. Stoll tells us he contacted the engineering firm in January asking them to pay the bar tab for the legislative reception, estimated to be about $235. Taxpayers will pay another $885 for food and chairs for the event.
According to Stoll, HDR has done some sub-contracting for COMPASS amounting to about $27,000 in the past 24 months and does work for various cities and counties in Idaho. HDR is a big outfit with a heavy interest in transit projects, judging from their WEBSITE.
Suffice it to say, HDR has a lot to gain if Legislators vote for transit projects or local option taxes.
To put this all in perspective. The GUARDIAN has no problem with private firms spending their private money attempting to influence lawmakers for their personal benefit. It is ironic–and revealing– that COMPASS has no compunction about hosting a party, buying nearly a $1K in party food, but gets a private contractor to pick up the booze tab.
The problem as we see it comes when the likes of COMPASS solicits money from a firm doing business with local governments. HDR is big in the train, trolley, and transit business…the prime focus of COMPASS which acts as the “Treasure Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization”…mandated by congress in order to qualify for regional funds.
Of even more concern is using public funds to schmooze with Legislators who are supposed to be working in the public interest. COMPASS pays a lobbyist to advance its agenda and the guy told a
Senator the reception provided an opportunity to make a “FORMAL presentation and hold INFORMAL discussions with legislators.” These discussions and FORMAL presentations should be conducted in open public meetings. At the very least, all citizens should be invited.
Like the recent ACHD/Boise City Council meeting where citizens were snubbed, COMPASS has its own agenda and makes no provision for citizens to join in the merriment and voice THEIR agenda with lawmakers.
Since the Senator was led to believe there would be a FORMAL PRESENTATION, the GUARDIAN thinks it appropriate that any citizen wishing to attend this meeting of government officials should drop by the Gernika Room beneath Bank of The Cascades from 5-7 p.m. Thursday.
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