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.
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.
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