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.
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