City Government

Prosecuting Poor Performance at The Poop Farm

UPDATED 5 p.m. Wednesday

Boise City Hall was rocked by scandal Wednesday when it was revealed that felony charges have been filed against the former manager of Boise’s Twenty Mile south “Poop Farm.”

David C. Skinner is charged with “misuse of public funds.” The complaint filed in 4th District Court alleges that “without authority of law” he appropriated livestock supplies and or money for his own use. Skinner resigned last month during the audit and criminal investigation. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

The investigation and subsequent financial audit came after confidential informants provided the GUARDIAN with evidence which was published and turned over to city officials. It was difficult to get the attention of the folks at City Hall who characterized the situation as being a “personality conflict” and a “personnel issue.”

One councilor even berated us for posting “false information” and said we were simply “anti-government.” Today we talked to Councilor Elaine Clegg who explained she was aware of the Poop Farm situation and felt information that was “unvarified” by official sources should not be made public. GUARDIAN decided to go with it for better or worse, relying on confidential sources.

The GUARDIAN was aware of the purchase of livestock supplies for the Poop Farm, but the city has no cattle and never did have any! This information was published in June and we believe it was a factor in prompting Councilor Vern Bisterfeldt to demand an internal audit of the practices of the Public Works Department.

One item not mentioned in the criminal charges, but sure to be subject of internal discussions was the purchase of two tractors for $143,000 without Council knowledge or approval. Tractor Poop Frm.jpg
They were carried on the books as “rental equipment” and it was never uncovered until the GUARDIAN and its sources made it known. State law requires bids for anything over $25,000, but that was never done. The purchasing department didn’t even have a copy of the contract with a Nampa implement dealer they paid monthly for several years.

The city has officially been mum all summer and fall, but GUARDIAN sources tell us there has been a flurry of activity in Public Works, Purchasing and Human Resources over the problems at the Poop Farm. The audit was conducted by the internal audit office at the direction of the City Council and Boise Police detectives handled the criminal investigation.

The problems at the Poop Farm are not limited to the 4,000 acre facility where “biosolid waste” is deposited from the sewer plant.

The GUARDIAN uncovered a pattern of illegal spending, lack of oversight, lack of accountability–financial or otherwise, and an almost total reliance on department head’s judgment by the City Council. Complaints by honest City employees were either ignored or down played.

Almost every department in city hall is touched by this latest scandal. To their credit we hear that City purchasing practices are being tightened and auditors and purchasing people are now looking for split invoices, less than full signatures and other “red flags.”

This is the biggest scandal to hit the City since Dave Bieter became mayor with promises of accountability, ethics, and transparency in government… promises Bieter contends he has kept with the culmination of the investigation. He feels “the system worked,” and admitted some changes are being procedural changes are being instituted as a result of the audit.

Bieter told the GUARDIAN, “I believe we got to the bottom of it and it is relatively contained.” He added the arrest warrant should send a message that will put a chill on other thoughts of misuses of city funds and property.

Finally, the Mayor said he doesn’t anticipate further charges being filed, he and the Council have a range of options from “dismissal to administrative personnel actions,” that can still be used if needed.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Can you tell us who the Council Member is that that your efforts were in error? I think the voters need to know.

  2. The only thing that I can say is…. Oh Crap what a problem!

  3. The guardian did it again! The people of Boise have no idea how lucky they are to have a really ” free press” watching and pointing out the corruption in their city government.We’ed all like to know who the council member was who accused you of publishing ” false information.” a real step in putting some honesty back in City Hall is to scrap the “secrecy” of corrective personnel actions.The people deserve to know who is stealing from them!

  4. interested observer
    Dec 14, 2005, 6:38 pm

    I would like to know how long you have been on the city payroll and if you are getting full benefits. Since the Mayor claimed that the city has sufficient internal controls to catch crooks and these same controls are the ones that brought the wrong doing to light, it is reasonable to assume you must be working for the city.

    The fact of the matter, as you have pointed out, there was a deliberate attempt to “cover-up” the problems by misdirection. Maybe we should be concerned about this type of behavior because it sounds like it is the type of thing that Bieter was going to clean up.

  5. Good job Guardian, just don’t hurt your rotater cuff patting yourself on the back too hard.

    My only problem with your post is you both take credit for the city investigation while castigating the city for failure to investigate the allegations. You can’t have it both ways. Also, it seems to be a stretch to say Boise City Hall is rocked by a scandal when the criminal acts are by a city employee with a duty station 20 miles away. But it certainly makes it more juicy to tie it to downtown.

    I am pleased to see that Mayor Bieter looked into the allegations and included several city agencies in the investigation. The charges that were filed appear to be the result of a workmanlike investigation and not brought in haste. Clearly the Mayor is keeping to his campaign pledge to clean up any problems in city government, including apparently activities south of Kuna or whereever the heck that farm is located.

    Now could you please turn your attention to the Statehouse and look into this stink with the GARVEE highway financing and the effort by the ITD board to steer the project management contract to the local firms with the political connections? Funny how Chuck Winder pops up in that imbroglio.

    Ed note–That is painful!

  6. MX, if you read the paragraph again, you should have your answer.

  7. Meglea – only mentions Clegg – not the name of the “other” councilor. Voters need to know.

    Ed note–It was Clegg and we have agreed to a cease fire with neither side claiming victory or admitting defeat on the “false information” issue.

  8. I worked on that farm and gave the city this information over two years ago and well I just got on the Poop list and ran off ! So if it went on this long, too damn bad. There is more there than cattle. Someone needs to look at crop sales! And if anyone cares I have both sets of books from the farm !!! Have A nice Day L.A

    Editor note–The GUARDIAN would love to have more information. Contact us through an e-mail that we can reply to.

  9. Sounds like City Hall is STILL out of control and STILL deep in the poop.

    Something else that smells like poop….the fact that the Mayor and Council oppose the Suncor development but love to destroy neighborhoods, approve massive condos, row houses and the sprawl at Harris Ranch.

    It is all about who gets the tax money – that simple.

  10. I can’t help but point out that it took action by the Council to initiate the audit in June and the council only acted AFTER the allegations started to appear in public about problems at the poop farm. You cannot tell me that it took 3 months after problems were reported (according to their version of the story) to figure out that an audit was needed. Instead it sounds like they were hoping that the problem would go away or be fired. So when the mayor and his controllers say that the policies and procedures they put into place worked, they are flat out spinning it better than a presidential candidate.

    It is also apparent that there have been problems out there for years and when the problems were brought to management’s attention they were ignored time and again. I bet if a person were to check on the personnel that were “relieved” of their duties out at the farm you would find a number of whistle blowers who tried to do what is right and instead were fired.

  11. The employees were trying. All this and much more was reported well over a year ago and possibly as long as two years ago with management choosing to take no action. Employees were getting into trouble for following city policy and finally had to risk going outside the city to get action.

    At what point in all this does the mayor believe his program was working?

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