City Government

Vows Dampen Fountain Fun

GUARDIAN reader Joe D’Errico complained of a recent incident in Ann Morrison Park and was put off by the e-mail response from a Team Dave staffer. We were able to answer his question with a simple, “You were right Joe, and the folks who roped off the fountain were wrong.”

Parks Department officials say NO ONE can deprive anyone else from using common areas of the park. Courtesy dictates that you avoid a seating area or gathering, but Boise”s Parks are open to the public. Here is his exchange with City Hall.

“I took my family to Ann Morrison park today to enjoy the park and cool off 
at the fountain. When we got there around 5 PM, we found that there was a 
wedding being setup on the west side of the fountain and the group had the  entire
fountain area roped off. Why is that allowed? I understand the idea of 
reserving public facilities for weddings and such, it just seems to me that 
allowing a small group of people to monopolize something as public as the  fountain
at the park is ridiculous. I felt cheated and angry that my city  leaders
would allow something like this to happen. I was not the only person  angry about
this and there were confrontations between wedding goers and people  who
wanted to use the fountain on one of the hottest days of the year. If this  is city
policy, it needs to be changed

Joe D’Errico

Dear Mr. D’Errico,
I am sorry that someone’s wedding and family gathering at a Boise park made you feel cheated.  I doubt whether they realized that their celebration would cause someone to react that way.  I will find out what the policy is and let you know as soon as possible.  ECD
   Elizabeth C. Duncan
   Office of the Mayor, City of Boise
Ms. Duncan,
Perhaps you could take a moment to re-read my original email. It was not  the
wedding or the family gathering that bothered me, it was that fact that they 
roped off the entire fountain and were telling people (the public) that they
had  to leave the area around the fountain (a public place). In addition, 
whether or not you “doubt’ that they realized that their gathering would cause a 
reaction similar to mine is meaningless to me in the context of my complaint,
and in fact, I find the tone of your entire response to be condescending. I 
did not contact the mayor’s office to ask your opinion on how I felt about
the  situation or what the wedding party was thinking. Please do not contact me 
again, I will find another, hopefully less judgmental, avenue to voice my 
concerns in the future.

Joe D’Errico
Boise, Idaho

Dear Mr. D’Errico,
If you detected a condescending tone in my response you are mistaken.   I was simply trying to respond to your email quickly, express some concern and optimism and let you know that I am collecting the facts for you.   ECD

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. If LOGIC is permitted in this little debate, I would have to award points to Joe for use of the language in his second entry.

    Ms. Duncan, rather apologizing for perceived condescension, declares Joe to be “mistaken.” Loss of points.

    I also cannot see any “concern or optimism” mentioned in her second response. Game to Joe.

  2. Having been thru several different issues with Ms. Duncan over the last year or so, you are dead on point Joe…she can be very condensending and rarely has the facts. Good points and good job staying on task Joe.

  3. I always give everyone the benefit of the doubt and research an issue to provide the appropriate response. Ms. Duncan’s first email does this.

    What we don’t have in the above article is a timeline for the initial letter and subsequent responses. Cut Ms. Duncan some slack, if these volley of emails happened in one afternoon as she said she would find out the policy. If she continues to stonewall, then she deserves more pressure to find the official policy and or changes made to this policy in response to this incident.

  4. The bigger question is, why would we expect anything else from this administration? How many times do they have to exhibit their disdain for the citizens and employees of this city before we just send them packing?

    Why don’t we ask them what is going to be the deal with the meeting rooms in the new libraries? Or maybe the newest addition at Barber Park. We buy them, pay for the improvements and then team Dave expects us to pay to use them. Man! What a city government we have!!

    EDITOR NOTE–Cyclops,
    Barber Park is County, not city. They even included a phone number for rental info in their press release today…which we declined to publish.

  5. IdahoSkeptic
    Jul 10, 2007, 11:56 pm

    I find it amusing that ANYONE participating in this blog would deign to criticize others for condescension. It’s sort of like calling the kettle black.

  6. Why are we paying Ms. Duncan to speak to us in the first place?

  7. As someone who knows Ms Duncan and has worked with her on several projects, I have to disagree with Officer Wills. I have found her to be highly professional and always ready to help out. I am certain she will work with Mr. D’Errico to resolve this issue or at least to explain the policy.

    The personal bashing that goes on here is free speech…but sometimes highly rude. Maybe you ought to get to know someone before you bash them. With the exception of Officer Wills (who is entitled to his opinion), I wonder if any of you have many personal experiences with her?

  8. As a former local newsperson, I can tell you that if you don’t report what and how the spokesmouths of Team Dave want it done, expect your boss–or you–to get calls. Ms Duncan will determine what is news and tell you “no one cares” about parking spaces–or whatever the topic of the day may be if it is less than complimentary to her boss. Any local media outlet will confirm this if they are honest.

  9. I re-read the posts and don’t see anything that qualifies in my book as “personal bashing.” None of us (except Kip) claimed to have any personal experience. We just commented on our perception of what was printed here. My comment speaks to all spokespeople(Exline,Hollar, McCarty, Vogel, the F&G guy, the Corrections lady, the BPD lady, to name a few) not just Ms. Duncan.

  10. Mr. D’Errico wins the debate.

    And you’d expect the mayor’s office to know (without researching) the overriding policy that the public parks are for public use, and one party cannot deprive another party of that use.

    Maybe if Joe and his people had got nekkid and hopped into the Brent Coles Memorial Fountain, the wedding party would’ve summoned the constabulary to clarify the rules.

    However… speaking in Ms. Duncan’s defense… after plowing through the regularly posted “hotline” calls, can you really blame the staff for sometimes being a bit condescending? Most of the correspondents aren’t nearly as skilled with language OR reasoning, as is Mr. D’Errico.

  11. Bikeboy–
    You defend Ms Duncan’s condescending remarks while defending her due to an avalanche of unskilled writers. That works for me, especially since in your infinite wisdom you also awarded the debate to Mr. D’errico.

    She claimed D’Errico was “mistaken” in his perception the remarks were condescending and asserted she was being “optimistic.”

    We are now presented with questions of LOGIC:
    –Does she know the difference between condescension and optimism?
    –Was she putting a happy face on a nasty choice of words.
    –Was she not aware of Councilor Shealey’s “dog food and dope” gaff with the cop union?

    Seems that verbal abuse of the public from city hall is not a one time anomoly.

  12. The City Does not Care
    Jul 11, 2007, 1:41 pm

    Here is another problem…..we were thrilled to hear that the City wanted to have the fireworks again at the park. So we headed over to see them. We headed up onto Crescent Rim and found that unlike the years of the river festival that cars AND CHILDREN were allowed in the same stretch of street. We asked one of the property owners why the city allowed the VERY UNSAFE situation of speeding cars and kids in the street.

    They explained that the city refused to set up the same saftey measures that were used at the River Fest time because “it cost too much for extra officers to close the east end of Crescent Rim”.

    It was very clear that the city did not care that on the east end of Crescent Rim small children and speeding cars occupied the same street. We saw at least ten situations the were very unsafe.

    Looks like the City once again refuses to listen to those that know and that they could care less about the safety of our children – money is more important.

  13. Folks, they close off the Train Depot to the public most of the time. Why do you think they have a problem closing off the public fountain?

    The right families in this town can get just about anything they want. Cash works too. It would be totaly funny if a large group of African Americans rented the fountain and kept everyone else out on the hottest day. That would make some news worth reading, especially if they offered the same money and the city turned them down. Or how about a bunch of Rainbow People. It would be so cool to see Boise cops telling people they had to stay out when things got out of hand. It would probably make national TEE VEE.

    Of course you would have to look very hard in the daily rag to find an article like that. Sorry, no more soggy Wonder Bread in Boise public fountains.

  14. First off, is Mr. D’Errico serious? Maybe the wedding party should not have taken up the entire fountain area. But, instead of showing his family how to rise above this and be happy for others on their special day, Mr. D’Errico showed anger at being inconvenienced and threw a temper tantrum. That’s what we need in this world, more angry people.

    As far as Ms. Duncan’s first e-mail being condescending? Again, are you serious? She apologized for the inconvenience and promised to get Mr. D’Errico answers.

    I, as well as many of the posters, have worked with Ms. Duncan in the past. She is professional and a tireless worker who demands perfection. I find her ethics to be refreshing, especially in the not always professional and often lazy world we live in today. So instead of giving Ms. Duncan a chance to do her job, Mr. D’Errico lashes out again and now has become a debated topic. Bravo Mr. D’Errico. Nice job sharing your pointless and selfish anger with all of us.

  15. I give Mr. D’Errico’s response letter a 10 out of 10. Dealing with gov’t employees is like dealing with a brick wall more often than not in my personal experience.

    The incident at Ann Morrison Mr D’Errico describes is not entirely unique either.

    Here’s a similar situation except it occurs daily. The first dock at Quinn’s pond is being monopolized by a crowd of people swimming everyday. It makes it tough for those who want to launch a boat or to fish.

    Furthermore, some in this crowd are littering including breaking glass bottles, some are vandalizing the docks (I heard with my own ears a conversation bragging about the vandalism of the docks) and etc. etc.

    I urge those of you who care to call the Mayor’s hotline and suggest that the first dock be made boat launching only at least for certain hours and/or certain days and/or months.

    To be fair to the swimmers, who probably don’t have air conditioning at home nor the money to go to city pools, I suggest yet another dock to be anchored a bit offshore. This “swimming” dock could have a ladder and none of the railings.

    The railings on the docks are there to prevent wheelchairs from going off the edge, and it’s these railings that have been vandalized, however the railings make it hard to climb back onto the dock.

    Therefore my suggestion to have an offshore swimming dock with no railings.

    Mayor’s hotline: 384-4404

  16. If you go to the Parks Dept. website, Ann Morrison Park at the fountain is not available for rent. It says only the Ann Morrison Park SHELTER is available. That had to have been something special, or someone special, to have even been used for a wedding.

  17. Whether Ms. Duncan felt she was condescending or not, she could have handled her reply better. She never once said “I’m sorry that I came across that way”. Sometimes you have to admit you made a stupid mistake in the way you phrased something. For some this is hard to do. I don’t care if people know her or not, I agree her responses come across somewhat uncaring and belittling. I think Ms. Duncan dropped her doughnut here.

  18. Maybe the wedding party roped the area off without the permission of the Parks Department. I would like to know what E Duncan found out regarding the policy.

    And I do think her original e-mail was a tad condescending. “I’m sorry that someone’s wedding made you feel cheated” kind of sounds like the subtext should read, “what an uncompassionate misanthropic creep you are”.

  19. Joe D'Errico
    Jul 12, 2007, 6:04 pm

    Call210 you are way off the mark here. There was no confrontation at the park, there was no “temper tantrum” in fact, my family and I moved out of the area, along with most of the other people who were enjoying the fountain at that time, I never uttered a word to anyone other than my wife about the situation while at the park.

    I guess your annonimity makes you feel comfortable enough to lie and exagerate about something that you know little about in order to make your point(Now there is something that I could use to teach a valuable lesson to my daughter). Have a great day Elizabeth, uh, I mean Call210.

  20. Joe D'Errico
    Jul 12, 2007, 6:04 pm

    Call210 you are way off the mark here. There was no confrontation at the park, there was no “temper tantrum” in fact, my family and I moved out of the area, along with most of the other people who were enjoying the fountain at that time, I never uttered a word to anyone other than my wife about the situation while at the park.

    I guess your annonimity makes you feel comfortable enough to lie and exagerate about something that you know little about in order to make your point(Now there is something that I could use to teach a valuable lesson to my daughter). Have a great day Elizabeth, uh, I mean Call210.

  21. I don’t see a problem with ECD’s response. If she had given the knee-jerk response that has been suggested, that is, “You are right, they were wrong,” then that truly would have been condescending. Instead she acknowledged the complaint and said she’d look into it. If the facts are as Mr. D has suggested, and I have little reason to believe they aren’t, it was entirely appropriate for ECD to look into the matter more fully and give an informed response.

    As for Mr. D’s reply, it was a gross over-reaction to a fairly benign and harmless response by ECD.

  22. shealyisnottheantichrist
    Jul 12, 2007, 9:26 pm

    You are expecting a representative of the city to communicate to you in a less than condescending way, and when they do not, you expect to be treated with common courtesy and an apologetic response.

    Gosh, I would have to say that your expectations are unrealistic with this administration.

  23. Grumpy ole guy
    Jul 12, 2007, 10:20 pm

    Hang on a minute – one can’t award points for a debate, since for a debate to take place a topic has to be determined first, and that clearly has not happened in this instance.

    Spokesperson’s need to bend over backward to accommodate concerned callers and if a policy isn’t known, that spokesperson should check on it and return a call immediately.

    Other than the Depot which appears to be a very special case requiring very special rules; City Parks are open UNLESS a designated area is reserved ahead of time. The designated areas are those such as the shelters and areas around the fireplaces; and those are open on a first come, first served basis if no reservation has been made. I learned this back in the 1970’s with a single telephone call to the City Parks Department where the caller very politely explained the rules and alerted me as a new-comer to the City, that another park existed with the required facilities for the date and time I needed a reservation.

    But, that was way back during Mayor Eardley’s term when “nothing was happening in Boise” so we were being told.

    So, I have to say, no points ’cause there was no contest, just a City employee forgetting who her/his bosses really are – us.

  24. Hey Elizabeth, oh, excuse me, I mean, Call210,

    Joe has the high ground here. Whether you meant to be condescending and arrogant, or not, you came off, and continue to come off, that way.

    Why not apologize? My guess is that this whole event would blow over if you said something along the lines of, “Joe, I am sorry you and others were inconvenienced and sorry if I seemed rude. Let me check into the situation and make sure that if anything was done improperly, it won’t happen again.”

    Humility is pretty rare, and for that reason valued all the more.

  25. Citizen: Yes, I am calling to complain about a school bus that stops outside my window every morning at 6:30 and wakes me up. Is this allowed under city code?

    City Spokesmouth: Sir, I am sorry that you have a problem with innocent young children who are simply trying to get an education. I am sure these poor children have no idea that they make you react this way. I will check into that for you.

    Ms. Duncan needs to enroll in an “Ego Management Class”

  26. I agree with Thom here. The best you can do with your written skills and time is to worry about a fountain that was blocked off for a wedding? Do you have any idea how much time and your taxpayer dollars is wasted running down trivial issues like this?

    As a taxpayer, there are more important issues I would like Ms Duncan (and the other city employees who are probably trying to answer this) to work on than something as trivial as this! I’d ask how much it cost to run this down…but I would consider that trivial as well and wouldn’t want to waste the time of another city employee or any of my tax dollars on it.

    Sometimes, I think this site and the people on it are right on track with the issues facing this city…and other times, not so much. Anyone want to venture a guess where this one falls for me?

    By the way, I don’t consider myself a fan of “team Dave” as they are refered to here…but, come on folks, we could be a bit more “helpful” here by not wasting taxpayer dollars on trivial pursuit…don’t ya think?

    Deadmeat, the issue was settled and Joe got his answer from the GUARDIAN right up front–he was right, the wedding folks were wrong.

    No “tax dollars” are being expended by those who trash or defend Team Dave–that is just sport at this point. Those people probably won’t get married at the fountain again, so game over.

    The point of the exercise is that Joe felt his only relief was at the GUARDIAN. In light of the privatization of The Depot, Joe didn’t want the practice to spread (he told me this privately). He was truly pure of heart and looking out for ALL citizens at the outset.

    For staffers to determine a citizen’s concerns to be trivial treads on thin ice.

  27. I disagree…anytime you ask a city employee to investigate something, Tax $ is utilized. So it’s not sporting and it is serious.

    In fact, I can understand a city employee’s dilemma here…the citizens don’t want them to waste money…but some feel free to send them on wild goose chases for trivial matters…and this is a very trivial matter!

    I don’t usually comment on this site…I usually just like to read the articles and nod in agreement…but the last couple of articles really made me scratch my head and in my opinion are way off of what you usually accomplish on this site.

    I’m just asking us to do the same thing we would ask of the city leaders and employees…be careful what we are spending our tax dollars on.

    Now your latest story on the police cars running while the officer is on break has the potential to save money for all of us. I will just read and nod on that one.

  28. Who is to be the judge of what’s trivial or not? Maybe the drug dealer down the street thinks the drug issue is trivial and tax money is being wasted by policing drug dealers.

    I think the commotion about widening Ustick was trivial, others don’t.

    I think the monopolization of the docks at Quinn’s pond is NOT trivial and is on topic for this thread yet nobody made a comment, not even Mr D, who I supported 100%.

    What’s really not trivial though, is November’s election. Remember all that you read here and elsewhere and then vote for whom you think will handle the city’s affairs, YOUR way.

  29. Boisecynic…can you really compare our city’s drug problem with someone blocking off the fountain for a wedding???

    As for your suggestion at the docks, I’m not familiar with the area you are talking about therefore I didn’t comment as I don’t think I have enough knowledge of the area in question to comment. Could be that others feel the same way?

    Have you presented your suggestion to anyone? Have they rejected it? If they did, did they give you a reason?

    Also, Have you done your civic duty and reported the vandalism to anyone?

  30. BoiseMustBeCleansed...
    Jul 14, 2007, 7:07 pm

    Deadmeat & Thom (insert impotence joke here),

    You really have no conception of what Mr. D’Errico was driving at, do you?

    His primary concern, a park fountain unfairly taken over for private nuptials, merely is a microcosmic slice of a much greater, macrocosmic problem of administrative ineptitude and indifference on the part of the Boise city government.

    His secondary concern, the fatuous and supercilious response by Ms. Duncan, only serves to underscore, yet again, the aforementioned indifference by bureaucratic ciphers who only wish to preserve their miniature fiefdoms, while giving the illusion of due diligence concerning the very issues which afford them, quite frankly, unearned livelihoods. Condescension perceived is condescension achieved, Ms. Duncan.

    And ultimately, Mr. D’Errico’s tertiary concern is more global in perspective. I am necessarily inferring, from his own written statements, that he is highly concerned about what amounts to a fascistic usage policy of public recreational space. Though a wedding is a good thing, it should never come at the expense of the many so that a few may be served, especially on a hot summer day, when a fountain’s cooling water stands between a man and a bout of heatstroke.

    For shame, Boise public serpents…er…servants.

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