City Government

CCDC Jumps On Arid Club Issue

Boise’s Urban Renewal agency board, the CCDC (Capitol City Development Corp.) made a code-3 response after the GUARDIAN sounded the alarm, revealing they have been approving use of public funds to pay for membership in a private club.

Within 18 hours of the GUARDIAN posting, the board had unanimously decided to stop paying for Director Phil Kushlan’s membership at the exclusive private Arid Club frequented by the richest people in Boise. It was a good fire control effort and also the right move.

Our concerns came to light after a bill was introduced at the legislature (it was killed in committee) to require members of urban renewal agency boards to be elected by citizens. We liked the idea, but Boise City officials told the legislature and the GUARDIAN there was no need for “another layer of government” because the CCDC was appointed by the Mayor and two city councilor members sat on the board to provide oversight. They did not.

We soon received a tip that there was NO OVERSIGHT to speak of and to prove the point, our source pointed to Kushlan’s membership at the private club where he supposedly conducted public business. We checked around and the routine practice was obviously wrong in terms of public policy and no one from Mayor Dave Bieter to Councilor David Eberle had ever questioned the practice let alone done anything to stop it. Rome was burning while Nero fiddled.

So much for oversight.

The Daily Paper didn’t do anything until two local TV stations were all over it and Team Dave was blustering with outrage following a CCDC statement that they would no longer spend our taxes at the private club. In short, no one had a clue about the spending at a private club with public tax dollars.

To his credit, Councilor Eberle acted quickly and decisively to curb the spending and head up damage control.

As for Kushlan, he is getting jerked around by Channel 6 as though he were a bad guy. He is not. However we question his wisdom mixing personal spending at the club with his CCDC spending account. Penciled notes on invoices indicated certain meals were personal.

After Brent Coles and Steve Guerber’s problem’s with public expense accounts, it should be clear that you’re gonna end up in a mess if you put personal meals on the same tab as government meals–no matter how well intended.

A complete audit of the CCDC to include administrative spending practices, agency goals, financing long term debt, the TRUE relationship to the City of Boise, the tax inequity, and bonding authority given the fact the agency is funded by LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES.

There will be more on this smoldering blaze.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Jon Q Publique
    Mar 15, 2007, 11:50 pm

    Great job Guardian!


  2. Once again, it took a two-by-four upside the head to wake up some of our alert officials.

    Keep that club a-swingin’, Guardian!

  3. Grumpy Old Guy
    Mar 16, 2007, 4:03 am

    OK, OK, this is a taxing district, but the board is appointed not elected by taxpayers? What kind of monster did Dr. Frankenstein build with this spare parts? The Board sets the budget and expends the funds, but the Board is responsible to a body other than the tax-payers. Who sets the tax rate, how is it collected. Oh, so many questions and so few (straight) answers.

    Grumpier and grumpier

  4. From the CCDC website: “CCDC is governed by a nine-member Board of Commissioners. Commissioners are selected by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council for five-year terms. Board meetings are open to the public and generally held the second Monday of the month, beginning at noon, in the CCDC conference room, 805 W. Idaho St., 4th Floor, Boise. Work Sessions are open to the public and generally held the fourth Monday of the month, beginning at noon also in the CCDC conference room.”

    The Idaho Open Meeting Law has some very specific requirements about scheduling and noticing open public meetings. SO, has CCDC now held an illegally closed, or improperly noticed, meeting, in order to try to spin their way out of this problem?!

  5. BrianTheDog
    Mar 16, 2007, 6:58 am

    Geez big Dave, Thought you were taking some time off? Good work again. It won’t be long before your in the print edition.

  6. Good work, Dave, and congrats on the Statesman mention today.

  7. Yes for sure! Good work Dave!
    One would think the news media would get off their lazy money grabbing #@%! and discover some of these story’s themself’s. Maybe we as a community we ought to buy out the statesman and hire Dave to run it. Hehehehhe sure might scare some of these politicians.

  8. Excellent job Guardian. Your blog is my first site surfed every morning.

  9. thank you your on the right track…a reading of the legislation which created the agency says very clearly that once the objective is realized-the urbanization of the original downtown core the agency should be disbandon…….they just keep making the “core” bigger and as i understand have gone out to the vicinity of the airport as well

  10. No wonder the Statesman doesn’t need investigative reporters. The G-Man does it for them. If I were on the news desk over there I would be ashamed. But really folks, isn’t Bronco football and what the cheerleaders do in their spare time more important to the citizens?

  11. Very nicely done! No matter what they may say, I know they read the Guardian….. Keep’em on their toes!

  12. I agree, it’s bad PR and bad public policy for tax money to be used to pay for a private club.

    The CCDC was right to put a stop to it, but it does erode confidence in their claim of city oversight. The CCDC has done a lot of good work for this city and it’s unfortunate the CCDC, the city and auditors approved this improper expenditure year after year.

    Makes you wonder what other local officials have memberships at public expense at local golf clubs or whatever.

  13. Hang em high ! Not a shock to find the under-table
    being done by the ccdc. What ever happened to
    over sight ?

  14. I’m pretty sure channel six is responsible for solving this problem. Least… that’s what they keep telling me.

  15. Back in the old days I think the City Council was the board of directors over the Boise Redevelopment Agency.

    I think they got tired of it and reconstituted it as the CCDC and outsourced the oversight to the local businessmen and other influence peddlers like Reberger. Two council members draw the short straw and have to serve on the board to provide that varnish of credibility. With the Council checked out it’s not a surprise that a mentality would take over that public agency official should have his Arid Club dues comped.

    When government officials and lobbyists have no one to watch them, and they play footsie with business, bad things like this happen. Or worse. University Place.

  16. Grumpy Old Guy
    Mar 17, 2007, 12:34 am

    Oh, to be sure, I mean to add my thanks to the Guardian for this, and a lot more. And, thanks too, to Sharon for that reference to the CCDC web site.

    It still puzzles me how that a taxing district can have an APPOINTED, rather than elected, Board of Commissioners. Cemetery, Mosquito, Weed, Hospital and Library districts (and all the others) elect their Commissioners, how did our (un)beloved Legislature ever allow this much “local control” over a tax-gathering district operation. But, I’m about to get myself started on a whole different can of worms if I allow myself to dwell on either the Legislature or Local Control.

    thanks Dave, thanks Sharon.

    Not much less grumpy, but thankful.

    EDITOR NOTE–Our main problem with the taxing structure is that the CCDC is NOT a tyaxing district, but it SHOULD be. They get direct tax payments from the county treasurer, but are APPOINTED by the Mayor. Attempts to have the members ELECTED were quashed by Boise City lobbying efforts.

  17. The guardian gets major credit for getting the spotlight turned onto this issue. Now that it is on, we need to keep turned on, and make it even brighter.

    I do have a small issue with the editor’s last point that CCDC, “should be (a taxing district)”, an issue with which I think the Guardian will agree.

    Before CCDC is given taxing capability, there needs to be an open, honest, public discussion about CCDCs role in the community. And, preceding the discussion, there needs to be an independent audit/analysis of CCDC’s activities. We need to determine whether or not the subsidies CCDC has granted, and continues to grant, to downtown businesses are providing a legitimate benefit to the area. For instance, are they providing a net benefit to area taxpayers, or are the subsidies just a transfer payment from area residents and businesses to CCDC’s recipients? Or worse, are the subsidies being paid to out of state developers with the result that Ada County tax payers are subsidizing businesses in other states?

    Once we have the answer to those, and a host of related questions, we need a yes or no vote on whether or not CCDC should continue, or be terminated.

    If we, the Ada County taxpayers, like the answers we get from such a discourse, and we vote to continue CCDC, then yes, they should be set up as a tax district with elected representatives.

    EDITOR NOTE–I do indeed agree. My point was that if they have what amounts to taxing authority, they should play by the rules of elected taxing districts. As it is now they make their own rules.

  18. I have questioned the need for “redeveloping” going back to the early 70’s when I worked for the Broadbent company which was selling all the buildings downtown to the BRA. I still don’t get it.

    I can’t believe the movers and shakers are still enamored of the Arid Club. The food isn’t all that wonderful and it doesn’t even have a golf course.

  19. Grumpy Old Guy
    Mar 19, 2007, 3:24 am

    Sorry guys, I’m either being more dense than usual or something isn’t adding up here. If the CCDC is NOT a taxing district, who determines the tax rate and who collects those taxes. Further, if the funds collected from those who use the facilities and the funds payed in the form of the taxes gathered all go to the CCDC (which I had believed to be the fact) then who reviews their books, and how often are audits conducted.

    If the commissioners are proposed by Boise’s Mayor and confirmed by the City Council, how does one go about submitting a suggestion for names of folks to serve, and when should such suggestions be made. For how long does each Commissioner serve? Is there a means of dismissal? Is the service for a set term of office, or at the pleasure of the Mayor.

    Mayhap a little less grumpy, but still confused, and worried.

    EDITOR NOTE–Property taxes are determined by a LEVY as a percentage against the ASSESSED VALUE of the parcel. Value is determined by the county assessor. The levies come from each city, county, ACHD, school etc. All levies are uniform throughout the disstirct and the appraisals use the same uniform formula. But the revenues on new buidings and appreciation go to CCDC.

    Terms are 4 years and from the looks of the membership it is mostly insider trading. No housewives or worker bees from the bench serve.

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