City Government

Insider Trading at City Hall

Cruising through the Mayor’s Hotline list we came across an entry which raised an alarm with a fireman:

Perry Oldenburg re:
Political Material in City Mail: I work for the Boise Fire Department. I’m calling in regards to the pamphlets and flyers that we received in the cities’ mail. I work at a fire station and we got a flyer for a candidate for the Ada County commissioner’s position. On the front of it says Boise City Employees and has a date and a time we can come see the individual. I was wondering if it’s appropriate that we dispense these political letters and pamphlets in our city mail. I was under the impression that is for city business and we cannot solicit other things whether it’s a service someone does or anything else. I don’t think this is appropriate to distribute out to city-wide employees. Maybe you could give me a call and talk about the appropriateness of this. Thank you.
Action Taken: Contacted Mr. Oldenburg and informed him that the Mayor’s office had already had spoken to person(s) involved and informed them that it was improper to utilize the city mail system for such purposes.

Turns out the material was in support of Paul Woods, the foothills land acquisition director who is the Demo candidate for County commish.

Woods denied any involvement in the mailing and said, “A supporter got overzealous and placed some posters and flyers in the city mail which was inappropriate.” The employee worked in another city department and the subject of a reprimand is before the Human Resources department.

A GUARDIAN reader who doubles as a conspiracy theorist speculated that Woods’ candidacy was somehow connected to Team Dave trying to assert influence at the county level.

“The race and everything connected with it is my own doing and not connected in any way with the city or city administration,” said Woods.

THURSDAY P.M. 25 MAY UPDATE–Team Dave Chief of Staff Jade Riley explained to at least one city councilor there was a communications breakdown. Once the complaint was filed by fireman Oldenburg it was checked out, confirmed and the offender was admonished. Riley reportedly said a secretary-receptionist transcribing the hotline assumed that Riley had notified Oldenburg of the action taken” and he had not. Riley has taken full responsibility for the mix up.

The GUARDIAN has long referred to the recorded message line as the “placebo line.” There is no medicine dispensed, but people feel better after taking the treatment–venting to a silent message machine.

Mayor’s Hotlines and Ethics Hotlines are not the way for honest people to access their government.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. concerned boise employee
    May 24, 2006, 5:26 pm

    As a boise city employee myself, this comes as no surprise. What poor Dave did when he decided to run was try and find a competent advisor…but rather than finding people who would give honest assessments and a variety of views, he selected the state democratic party chair, jade riley, a young know-it all who thinks he’s the local version of Karl Rove. He is disliked by the REAL and professional employees of the city as bad as Gary Lyman ever was. He’s about half as smart as he thinks he is and needs to quit trying to impress by making stupid decisions. I can almost bet this episode has his handwriting and blessing all over it. Would the council and citizens please wake up to the fact that Coles or Bieter…we have only traded one tyrannt (Lyman) for another (Riley).

    NOTE–Strong name calling was edited out of this post.

  2. Boise is more interesting than San Francisco ever was….or maybe I was too young to notice. Lots of people don’t know what is appropriate behavior and I don’t know who will teach them.

  3. Not Sure I Buy It
    May 24, 2006, 10:42 pm

    How do you say….”just do it and ask for forgiveness later”?

  4. Although I’m not a City employee, I have worked with Paul Wood’s quite a bit in the last couple of years and I believe him when he says he did not approve the mailing in question. Paul is very sensitive to even the suggestion of inappropriate behavior, and was motivated to run, in part, because of the underhanded tactics of the current commissioners. It would be just like the Dems though, to sabotage their own candidates with some stupid tricks like this. But don’t be too quick to toss all City employees, or all Dems for that matter, into the Team Dave camp. There are plenty of people who think for themselves and take their responsibility to the citizens seriously, and I think Paul Woods is one of them. I hope his campaign can proceed without this kind of “help”.

    But, one of the reasons that the Rovian paradigm is so successful, is that too many people have abdicated their civic responsibilities and do not participate in the process. When the “average guy” stays home, moneyed special interests have free reign to corrupt and manipulate the system. More people need to show up and not only vote, but contribute to and work on campaigns and issues (and work within the rules). Politics is not a spectator sport, at least not if you want the process to reflect your values and aspirations, rather than the well-being of Halliburton, KBR, Washington Group, Micron, André Agassi…………….etc. etc. etc.

    Of course there’s always the conflict between individual analysis and the group think aspects of party politics. But still, if the “nay sayers” stay home, all we’re left with to make public policy are the egomaniacs and yes men and women, which lead to less than meaningful debate.

    Thanks for the scoops and interesting commentary.

  5. I am sure that all cities, including SF are like this, it’s just that Boise really is still a small town and small towns just gossip, gossip, gossip. And the people running the city are not as cleaver in their mucking about….smaller gene pool?

  6. City Ethics Training
    May 25, 2006, 7:53 am

    The City of Boise used to outsource their ethics training, now its tailor done in-house.

    You get to hear limited subjects repeated and the proper way they want employees to deal with them (often providing incomplete information). The current overall employee ethics training program seriously lacks…

    Problem is, I think that HR knows it…

    After having received training by both means, I can say that the city either needs to find someone who knows how to teach a complete and full ethics course or return to outsourcing.

    Maybe the problem is with Legal holding HR back from doing the job they could do otherwise ???

  7. Perry Oldenburg
    May 25, 2006, 9:58 am

    I am the individual that called the Mayors hotline regarding distribution of political flyers in City-wide mail. I would like to let you know that I have never been contacted by anyone from Boise City regarding this issue. Everything in the “Action Taken” section regarding myself is false.

  8. Given the last post, the only thing left is to remember that the noose has thirteen coils and the gallows has thirteen steps.
    Mr Mayor??? come-out, come-out, whereever you are!!!

  9. It makes one question the “action taken” on every hotline call. Do you mean, Perry, that NO ONE has contacted you about this? Not the Mayor’s staff or HR or Legal? If that’s the case, the City Council is being duped as well as the public. Putting these logs on the Guardian will maybe serve a greater good than just providing entertainment for those of us who get a chuckle out of them.

  10. Hmmm… the plot thickens.

    Maybe Mr. Oldenburg better check in with us every couple days, just so we know he’s OK. There are sinister forces at work here. It would easy for him to “trip” (nudge nudge, wink wink) on the greenbelt, and get swept away by that swift-flowing current, ending up floating face-down in somebody’s yard on Eagle Island. (I’m just off another season of “24” here, but I’m picturing a “Team Dave” where Dave is just a puppet of a secretive shadow government. Gary Lyman is really calling the shots, via untraceable, encrypted satellite cell phone, from his armored underground fortress.)

  11. Perry Oldenburg now has a problem. Given the temperament that the city has regarding the Boise Guardian, he’ll be hearing from them now(ugly).

    However, I for one am please that he came forth with this information, if what he says is true (I believe it is), there is a even bigger problem here.

    We’ve seen corruption from within the management ranks of Public Works, not only at the City’s Farm, but also at the Treatment Plants. Obvious signs of a senior level management cover-up and now it appears even the Mayor’s Hotline comments may have some trust issues.

    The Hotline issue doesn’t sound like much, but if it’s true – it says volumes that amount to much more.

    I hope we’ll be hearing more about this soon.

  12. Maybe we should slow down a bit. I am not one to defend Team Dave and would never, ever come to the defense of Mr. Riley.

    However, could it be that someone was just being stupid when they mailed the thing out? There is lots of stupid everywhere. Perhaps the employee in question is not that bright and therefore didn’t think anything wrong with what they did, even though it was a very stupid act.

    As for Team Dave and Mr. Riley, well the placebo comment is spot on. As long as it looks like somthing is being done, they feel it is as good as having it done. It is exactly the same as their so called ethics policies. Because they have this means something very real in their minds. Pull back and look at it objectively and you see it for what it is – all hat and no cattle.

    EDITOR NOTE–Ferris, you got it totally correct. There was a minor infraction which was reported and corrected. At that point the system burped and “victim” truthfully reports to us that city never contacted him. GUARDIAN blog worked to perfection, one foul two freethrows. Play ball.

  13. So what Ferris is saying is “stupid is as stupid does” and it’s ok that the taxpayers get to pick up the tab (again) because that slap on the wrist does not include the consequence of paying for the “mistake”? Yeah, let’s raise our children that way as well. “what!!! I have to turn in that homework?” “But I didn’t know that taking the jacket that wasn’t mine was not ok…call me stupid but let me keep the jacket.” Let me see…being stupid pays off.

  14. junkyard dog
    May 26, 2006, 6:06 pm

    As one who has called to hotline several times in the past to report this, that, or the other thing…’s been my experience that calling the hotline actually WORKS. I got the tip from a neighborhood cop who says the mayor’s office passes off the complaint to the various department heads, who in turn have to report back to the mayor’s office with a solution & a reponse within 48 hours. So there was an employee who boo-booed and noted that the problem was resolved when it really wasn’t. Guess what folks, we ALL have done that in the past….(How many times have YOU drawn checks against a deposit you forgot to make????)
    There’s no denying that the hotline does have a certain placebo effort for those who just want to whine…but when I’ve made a legimate complaint, I’ve received follow-up calls from the departments heads of PDS, Parks & Rec, and the police department along with immediate action for solving the problem. Now THAT’S service!

  15. Mojo,

    I never said that person shouldn’t take a hit. I merely was stating this scenario could be plausible.

    This administration will always be about image and nothing else.

    Substance would be a nice change…

  16. Ferris B.,

    Yes, but what you said did allow for me to rant on about the fact that the tax payers are the ones who seem to pick up the tab for the actions of “stupid is as stupid does” .
    We may recall the great “mistake” of President Bush and his weapons of mass destruction – which is costing lives as well as taxpayer monies into generations to come.

    Several years ago there was an ad on the TV – the sound bite was “IMAGE IS EVERYTHING” and it does appear that many took that to heart, including our local governmental officials.

    We need a good sound bite for subtance….. (heavy sigh)

  17. I was contacted by a representative (Jade) from the Mayors office and told that there had been some confusion regarding my hotline question. As a result of this confusion, I was not notified of the resolution as stated in the “actions taken” area. Jade apologized for the confusion. Just wanted to update everyone.

  18. So Perry what you are saying is that Jade and others in the Mayors office were (are) confused? Neat way of saying we lied in our “actions taken” log.

    And we trust these folks to run our city, investigate poop farm issues and make un-bias rulings on growth and infill? I venture to say they have been (are) confused a lot during those times too.

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