Boise’s Team Dave is a step away from a legal land mine as they seek council approval of a PR/marketing agency to promote one side of a public policy issue.
The GUARDIAN sees it as a blatant violation of the “public purpose doctrine” in law which dictates that all expenditures should be in the “public purpose” –in essence benefiting all citizens equally.
Buried in Tuesday’s City Council “consent agenda” among a dozen other items is a proposal to spend $90,000 of taxpayer’s cash to manipulate public opinion in favor of a $60,000,000 downtown trolley being promoted by Mayor Dave Bieter. They want to hire a PR/MARKETING agent–just like politicos do for campaigns and Hollywood does for movies.
The CONTRACT AWARD RESOLUTION is for “PUBLIC RELATIONS/MARKETING, BOISE STREETCAR SYSTEM PUBLIC OUTREACH EFFORT..”
In the cover letter attached to the resolution, the agency proposal openly admits the “outreach” is aimed at one side of the issue when they say:
“… we see the streetcar outreach effort not only as an opportunity to educate residents about why
the time is right for a downtown streetcar but also to make the broader case that…”
The G-BAD boys at the Greater Boise Auditorium District tried to pull the same ad agency/PR stunt in 2005 when they pushed for a new convention center after voters told them “no deal.” That group’s illegal use of tax money to influence one side of an election issue was detailed in the Idaho Supreme Court decision issued August 11, 2005. Ameritel Inns prevailed in that case.
We can only hope the Councilors are wiser than Team Dave and they pull the sneaky spending item off the consent agenda, debate it publicly, and NOT approve the funds.
UPDATE 5:45 p.m. (15 minutes prior to the 6 p.m. Council meeting) Council President Maryanne Jordan announced on KBOI 670 AM radio a motion to table the proposed resolution would be considered. She said it was too early to make a decision regarding the “outreach” contract.
The GUARDIAN had predicted on air the issue would not be voted on tonight.
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