A recent tip to the GUARDIAN confirms our fears about Boise City’s urban renewal agency operating without oversight or accountability to the citizens.
The CCDC (Capitol City Development Corp.) is funded by property taxes and income from publicly owned parking facilities in the downtown area of Boise. In short, the funds come from taxes on new improvements and appreciation to privately owned real estate within the urban renewal district. This is called the TAX INCREMENT.
The GUARDIAN thinks it is simply inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be spent for membership in the exclusive private ARID CLUB for CCDC Director Phil Kushlan.
For those that don’t know, the Arid Club sits along the Greenbelt along River Street and is the private lair of most of Boise’s millionaires. The membership list is a virtual “who’s who” of the movers and shakers of the area. For many years it was a male only club, but has changed with the times. Membership is by invitation only, costs $2500 initiation, $180 per month, and a minimum of $1500 a year in food and drinks. By our calculations it costs $3660 a year to belong after any up front costs and before meal costs.
We don’t claim Kushlan has done anything wrong, but with a salary reputed to be pushing $130,000 there is no need for public money to pay his $180 monthly dues to an exclusive private club.
Our problem in general is that CCDC has paid for this membership for years, spending THOUSANDS of dollars annually…and apparently none of the board members or auditors question the practice. Our conclusions are based on records we obtained from the agency under the open records law.
We ran the discovery past several people and here’s what we got:
–A CPA tells us private club memberships are simply not allowed as tax deductions by the IRS. While meals could be construed to be legitimate “business expenses” the reimbursement for dues should be declared as additional taxable income on IRS form 1099 or W2. We have no way of knowing how the agency or Kushlan handles those records.
–Boise City Council president Elaine Clegg has told the GUARDIAN she considers the two city councilors who sit on the CCDC board to provide oversight. She offered a tepid defense of Kushlan’s membership, referred us to Councilor Dave Eberle for comment, but noted no other city department heads or elected officials are reimbursed for membership at the Arid Club.
–Councilor Eberle said he doesn’t routinely concern himself with $180 expenditures in the big picture, but declared he would be asking some probing questions about the Arid Club expenditures.
–Ada County does not allow ANY payment for private memberships. All areas of government pay for professional memberships and dues like chiefs of police, assessors, and various associations.
–An elected official in another city told us it was “flat wrong” to pay for private club memberships with public money.
–An attorney called it “stinky” and questioned the need to do the public’s business at a private club.
In summary, we feel the fact that Kushlan has belonged to the exclusive private club at taxpayer expense with the full knowledge and consent of the CCDC board for many years is a strong indicator of the agency’s loyalties–to the upper crust of our society and not the citizens.
The CCDC was created to fight blight and decay and we feel it has lost its bearings. The Arid club is far from blight and decay.
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Mar 14, 2007, 5:16 pm
I love it when the taxpayer pays for the rich to play. Hehehhehehehe I love it! Can’t quit chuckling! Kinda like the tax payers in Seatle building Paul Allen a new stadium. So much fun to be suckered!
Mar 14, 2007, 9:51 pm
AARRGGHH! This is starting to border on insanity!
I think I can now count the number of “decent” leaders on one hand.(By the way, I lost three fingers in a childhood accident)
Mar 14, 2007, 10:26 pm
Nice catch. Appears to be a legacy of the Coles era of using private sector practices in the public sector (another being nonmonetary awards for employee performance with such things like tickets to Broadway plays).
The food at the Arid Club is pretty good and I also like the single malt selection.
Mar 14, 2007, 11:35 pm
Hold on a sec. how can public business be conducted at a private place which restricts membership? The Director can belong to any organization to which s/he so desires, but the question of tax payers money (and what other funds are there in this instance) being used to enable a tax district official a place to conduct business away from the light of the sunshine laws is . . . . . .
oh, forget it, those low-life, morally bankrupt soles couldn’t give a rat’s rosy red asprin over what is right and what is convenient to their immediate purpose.
Grumpier by the minute.
Mar 15, 2007, 8:54 am
I am outraged, simple outraged….hold on let me be honest…I am jealous….does Phil do personal consulting, I need some tips on how to get my employer to pay for these business necessities. I would also like to be on the county caviar standards board.
Mar 15, 2007, 1:06 pm
“—An attorney called it “stinky” and questioned the need to do the public’s business at a private club.”
Humm seems like I remember something about Ada county commishs, and the sheriff meeting at the Arid Club that caused somewhat of a problem.
But Guardian, I haven’t you heard that the only reason that our elected officials go to the Arid club is because of their Chicken Wings. Just about as good as Hooters I hear. But I wouldn’t know…;)
Mar 15, 2007, 3:09 pm
Back in the day this used to be called Town and Gown relationship building. I think you are all jealous. Don’t you think our public servants ought to rub elbows with the “deciders” at the Arid Club?
P.S. I heard they have great cucumber and butter sandwiches down there and the poker game is a dime ante.
Mar 15, 2007, 7:17 pm
LOVE how Michelle “I’m nice, really, I am nice… I don’t want to harm you… really” Edmonds said “I discovered the leader of CCDC is a member of the exclusive Arid Club”
She discovered huh? By doing what? Oh yeah, surfing the Internet.
Way to go Michelle! A plus!
Mar 15, 2007, 8:34 pm
Oh, and because very few people watch them – I guess I should note that Michell Edmonds works for channel six.
Mar 15, 2007, 10:21 pm
Seeing that the good mayor announced today that he was unaware of the CCDC Arid club membership situation, I wonder if he ever “broke bread or took a meeting there” and who was his sponsor?
Mar 15, 2007, 10:56 pm
For the record, the Arid Club has one of the top Chefs in town and one of the few (very few) quiet supporters of our local food system.
downtown restaurant guy
Mar 16, 2007, 10:28 am
I’m all for local food but I bet the hash browns and many other food products prepared at the Arid club are Simplot brand. Hey, even the chefs at McDonalds, the guys who invent the delicious food served at those establishments, are trained in France or our own Culinary Institute. Do you think Kushlan membered up for the food?
Mar 28, 2008, 9:59 am
This article is quite concerning. It is no less than disgusting that our hard earned money regularly contributes to the indulgence of the more accustomed! I am mindful that this is nothing new; however, it is stories like this that are the sickening reminders of how corrupt and backwards our public authority figures can be! It literally makes me queasy to think that public money, in an amount that exceeds 11% of my monthly income is spent on one man’s personal frills. Yet another reason we need to demand transparency in government…Obama 08′!!!