Courthouse Answer Prompts Questions

An escrow account funded by Civic Partners to protect Ada County and the CCDC will “cease to exist” after eminent domain proceedings are completed against Civic Partners for the commercial space on the first floor of an apartment building adjacent to the courthouse.

In the previous post yesterday, former commish Roger Simmons told us of an escrow account that was part of the original courthouse deal with Civic Partners. He claimed there was a “bank account” with about 10 years (he was not certain of the number) worth of lease payments stashed to protect the CCDC and Ada County in the event Civic Partners had any financial difficulties.

Boise City’s urban renewal agency (CCDC) owns the county courthouse and leases it to Civic Partners who in turn sublease it to Ada County. Civic Partners was to build and own the apartment and other structures on county property in exchange for funding construction of the courthouse through their payments to CCDC. Ostensibly, Civic Partners was to earn cash renting commercial space and apartments to fund their lease payments to CCDC.

Civic partners has demonstrated an inability to lease their commercial space…now the county is involuntarily TAKING it, claiming county government is too big for the existing facilities. They are also taking the vacant first floor commercial space of the courthouse, but will not publicly reveal their plans for that space.

We asked a direct question of the official county spinmeister and he confirmed the following:

–There is indeed an escrow account
–It contains about $900,000
–The account is not accessible without permission of Ada County

Then he offered this cautionary note: “I do, however need to point out that after the county finalizes the condemnation proceedings in approx. 4 or 5 months, Civic Partners will no longer need to maintain this escrow account and it will cease to exist.”

Which prompts the following questions:

–Why will there no longer be a need for the account to protect the county and CCDC?
–Where will the $900,000 go? To Civic Partners, the citizens, the general fund?
— Or to bailout Civic Partners on their vacant commercial space without showing up in the county budget?

The GUARDIAN would be happy to hear from anyone who knows the ownership of the private apartment building and if it has been assessed and pays taxes.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Some things in life are so complicated and have so many pieces that I admire anyone who will attempt to understand them–automatic transmissions and school financing come to mind. Congrats ot the Guardian for taking this one on.

  2. Dave… what part of “Trust us!” don’t you understand?

    Our elected Public Servants would NEVER have any interest but that of their adoring constituents in mind.

    Just because their smoke-and-mirrors get-around-the-voters schemes are so convoluted that they’re impossible for ANYBODY to understand (even their authors), doesn’t mean that the public interest isn’t being served. Or that “Civic Partners” (quotation marks used very deliberately) would ever have the intention of enriching themselves at the public money spigot.

    One of my favorite “Simpsons” episodes is the one where the fast-talking salesman (think Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man”) comes to town and convinces everybody that they need a monorail in Springfield. Naturally, the monorail salesman makes out like a bandit, and the citizens end up sadder, wiser, and poorer.

    (I like the automatic-transmission / school-financing analogy. Perhaps “making sausage” should also be on the list. You’d rather NOT know how it’s done.)

  3. OK! All together now. “WE ARE SOOO SCREWED!!!”
    If there is a talking head for the county that can spin this to avoid the first “lynching” in a hundred years, they deserve an EMMY!! Why do I think the city isn’t any better??

  4. Colleen Fellows
    Aug 23, 2007, 1:16 am

    A more appropriate thought is why isn’t the COUNTY any better?
    As noted by Guardian, what’s up with the escrow? There has got to be a money trail to sniff out. This whole thing wasn’t just a scheme to get around the voters to build a larger courthouse. Unless there is a measure of personal gain for those involved, they wouldn’t have bothered fabricating this shell game. Somewhere in the mix, a pretty penny was likely made. The question is, by whom?

  5. I’ve asked it before and I’ll ask again. Why are these convoluted schemes concoted in the first place? No criminal intent has been elucidated by anyone with respect to the Courthouse/Civic Partners scheme. So short of white collar crime, what is it?

    I surmise that the whole system is clogged like 90 year old galvanized water pipes. Perhaps it’s time to rewrite the Idaho Constitution itself. 90 years ago those water pipes were fine, 90 years ago the Idaho Constitution was fine, but times have changed.

    Boiseguardian has made some very compelling arguments in favor of the 2/3 supermajority for bond elections, but is it really a good idea. I don’t know about courthouse space, but I know we need roads but it seems that we are hamstrung by that nearly insurmountable supermajority obstacle.

    There’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me about the argument that the supermajority is to protect absentee land owners who would have to pay more but are unable to vote due to their out of jurisdiction status.

    They chose that position and they should have to bite the bullet when we the locals vote (in a simple majority) to raise our taxes because when want a better freeway or whatever.

    EDITOR NOTE–Roads are not in the equation for bond elections…most of the funding is state and federal and they are not funded by local property taxes. I heard a recent query about having simple bond majority, but for no more than 5 years. Worth looking at.

  6. The super majority is meaningless in today’s atmosphere. County and city officials sit around and decide what we need. They already have “plan B” to implement if the citizens don’t approve.Then when the question at hand doesn’t get the necessary votes, they just announce the “success” and build, or buy, the bloody thing anyway.

  7. Civic Partners was a major player in the University of Idaho’s criminal scandal known as “University Place,” and the single man that seemed to be behind everything in that scandal was Roy Eigeruen and his law firm, Givens, Pursley. He was, as I recall, counsel to Civil Partners or maybe it was his firm–there was a relationship, as I recall. Is he still involved in this? Several downtown players that I know but who are not part of the Civic Partners-Government tax money scam have suggested to me for years that someone ought to investigate these dealings MUCH closer.

  8. I’m just adding another gripe to the pile here, but I HATE the parking situation at the Ada Courthouse. The fact that I have to pay to park at a public building is atrocious. There are vital government services housed at the courthouse which are not available anywhere else (at least to my knowledge) and the utter lack of available parking can be a serious barrier to citizens who needs to access those services.

    When people began parking on the street to avoid the fees, they planted parking meters all up and down second and third. Now, if you can’t afford to pay to access your government services, you have to park several blocks away and walk.

    Also, the parking system’s “first 10 minutes free” is an insult. When was the last time any of your business at the courthouse took less than 10 minutes? On a busy day, you could spend more than 10 minutes just going through security.

  9. Colleen Fellows
    Aug 27, 2007, 9:59 am

    Don’t forget the five-mile hike in from the handicapped parking spaces. While I may not enjoy the inconvenience of walking in, and I’ll be darned if I’ll pay to park where I already paid to build, I know many people who aren’t physically able to make that same walk.

    Isn’t the purpose of handicapped parking specifically for convenience? I understand the concern for not allowing parking too close to a government building, but why are handicapped spaces so very far from the entrance. How did this get by the American’s with Disabilities Act?

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