More PIGs At City Hall?

At the noon Council meeting of October 23, there was lengthy discussion about hiring a spin meister to shape public opinion on council issues.

Some wanted to expand the “Public Information Group” (PIGs) in City Hall and others wanted a council staffer to handle “constituent services.” There are currently spin meisters in the office of the mayor, police, public works, fire.

Councilor Alan Shealy even advocated contacting the Statesman and telling them what the council wants said because, “people read the paper.” The Daily Paper has been co-opted before, let’s hope the new management listens to the debate and makes up their own mind.

Shealy said they needed to be “pro active” and not be forced to respond to “the photographer and his blog” which the councilor described as being “not worth a bucket of warm spit.” The GUARDIAN felt reduced to the level of cops who Shealy previously described as, “smoking dope and eating dog food.” For all his education, Shealy never learned manners.

Unless there is a huge upset in the Boise City election, we see no change in the roster of politicos at City Hall.

The GUARDIAN has said it before. “They really aren’t bad people, they just need some direction.” And there lies the problem. They don’t take direction well at all!

We can offer a long list of poorly or illegally handled decisions ranging from land deals, denying citizens the right to vote on long term debt, the 10 commandments petition, a slush fund for a new police station etc. The legal department has lost a bunch of high profile cases, many times because they didn’t have the law on their side, but they represented their “client” –the council, not the citizens.

They establish budget priorities based on telephone marketing surveys of only 500 people–the GUARDIAN got called twice. The result is an annual surplus that is spent for pet projects using the survey as justification. We would love to see a shopping list on the City election ballot every two years. Citizen approval of capital projects. That idea comes from Councilor Maryanne Jordan and it is a good one.

Like some religious zealots, the majority of the council and the mayor seem convinced they are “doing the right things” and they tend to view others–including the GUARDIAN–as “wackos spreading hate and disinformation.”

This administration is bound and determined to do things whether the citizens approve or not. They have circumvented the voters on the important issue of libraries and a police headquarters–claiming it was done through “savings with no new taxes.” That stretches the truth nearly to the breaking point. We admire their dedication to their cause, but they really need to take direction from the public instead of seeking to manipulate the public to follow THEIR causes.

With the help of readers and City insiders, the GUARDIAN will continue to offer insight and perspective to city affairs. We need good solid information. The local government is expanding its staff to shape opinion. We have NO staff, get paid NOTHING, and depend on your intelligent discourse.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Guardian — Your constant drum beating for city wide decisions on major issues is commendable and to the extent that it is supported by the Idaho Constitution it reminds us of our civic responsibilities. However, I believe that to be fair, you must also acknowledge the rationale and legitimacy of City elections as vindication of the policies of this Mayor and City Council. You seem to suggest that every significant issue, both those required by the Constitution and others, should be subject to some type of plebiscite, initiative or referendum vote by the electorate. That is not the case. The electorate’s recourse is now and always has been the ballot box for our representatives. You have expressed much disdain for many of the actions taken by our current council as have many of your contributors. Free speech is wonderful, but your recourse is to advocate for new elected officials, not to criticize our way of governing ourselves.

    Maybe it is time for you to support candidates who you feel will better represent your interests. It is always easier to say what is wrong than making the appropriate corrections. So, I would challenge you to name other candidates on the ballot who may take better actions for the citizens of Boise. In the meantime, I believe that Mayor Bieter, Councilmembers Clegg, Shealey and Eberle are developing the type of representative government that we can be proud of, can continue to support and that we should return to office on November 6. If you disagree, please name other candidates who will provide better answers.

  2. Shealy has a proven track record of being “Rude and Smooth”. Recently as stated above and back to his college days at Harvard. Here is an excerpt and link to an article about Shealy

    “Even on the water, our stroke, Al Shealy, was pretty rude. When we went by a boat, he’d be yelling ‘So long suckers!’”……. “Some of us were in the habit of mooning people,” Stone said. “I have to admit, Al taught us everything we know about mooning.”


  3. Just for fun, how about a list of people paid to spin those who pay them. At the City level, Dave has fire, police, public works, and mayor. I will add ITD (2 at least), IDWR, Corrections, Governor’s office (this one may be necessary), Meridian School District, Boise School District, BSU. How many others?

    EDITOR NOTE–Statesman just lost Emily the blogger to Health and Welfare to join Tom Shanahan. Others include Highway department, ACHD, F&G, and Corrections, who all have “flaks.” So named for the press releases they issue “like so much flak.” The titles include information specialist, educator, public affairs etc.
    There may be more flaks than media to watch them.

    Most come from the ranks of local media because government pays so much better than the private sector. TV stations and Daily Paper don’t hold a candle to government pay and benefits.

  4. right_on_boise
    Oct 26, 2007, 12:08 pm


    So you hear all the bad about the current “Team Dave” and your answer is to stay with THEM? Great logic?? Did you not vote “Team Dave” in new to office 4 years ago? and look what we got! This it what we need!

    JIm Tibbs – Mayor
    Steve Kimball – Seat #1
    Redgie Bigham – Seat #3
    Carol Wingate – Seat #5

    Their are your names and I know that they would not conduct business like “Team Dave”. In fact with Tibbs as Mayor I know the new council, with Tibbs appointing his seat – that is 5 new seats, will steer the city back to the people! Not the way “Team Dave” keeps us in the dark and pursue their own pocket lining agenda!

  5. Whew! For a minute there I thought you were referring to the increased hiring of Boise police officers. Glad to see that you haven’t completely gone off the deep edge.

  6. So Tom, you advocate our current officials doing whatever they like. The people vote “NO” on the convention center and they try to do it anyway.

    They don’t even give us the chance to vote on the new police headquarters or the new branches of the public libraries. They just over-tax us and use that money to build whatever they want. They call it the general fund, I call it stealing. Now they want to spend 6 million dollars to build a kayak park.

    How many people will that benefit? Every time I turn around I hear about the homeless families living off the land, I hear about children that are going hungry or can’t afford school supplies, I hear about someone who needs surgery to live, but they can’t afford it and they don’t have any health insurance. This is the problem with the city, state and country we live in. They spend money on things we don’t need and they ignore the things we do need. I think Dave is right. Let’s get rid of them all. Maybe the next group will spend a little more time listening to what we want.

  7. Touche` John! Now there’s a guy who says it straight! It’s about time…good on, and RightonBoise! I’m on board to oust “Team Dave” and have people in office who care!

  8. Has Boise grown to the point where a publicist is needed to insulate the City Council from their employers? (I believe they have a hard time remembering they are employees of the taxpayers of Boise… NOT the special-interest groups that fund their campaigns. And I hope they’re reminded of that fact, come election day. Although frankly, I’m not optimistic. Most voters are totally apathetic; and those who aren’t seem to be weary.)

    As far as Alan Shealy “taking direction” from the little people… ARE YOU KIDDING? He has more answers than there are questions! Let’s not forget – he worked on Wall Street and rowed boats at Hahvahd. That he has condescended to our backward little burg is our gift.

    PLEASE continue to keep their feet to the fire, Mr. Guardian! Your endeavor has given voice to a goodly number of concerned citizen voters, and has kept us aware of goings-on that would otherwise never see the light of day. (I’m happy to see that the Daily Newspaper is acknowledging your efforts on a regular basis these days, for reporting the stuff they somehow seem to miss.)

  9. Mike Murphy, Bull Moose Tenor
    Oct 26, 2007, 3:56 pm

    A renowned nuclear physicist once told me (in an Irish Bar [the Molly Wee Pub in NYC, to be exact]) that: “Give me a Hundred PhD’s in a Room, and I can guarantee you there’s at least 10 of them that their peers consider Morons”.

    Nothin-for-Nothin; But Councilclown Alan Shealy (would qualify for peer review).

    I may not always agree with my favorite cyber-rag; But you do a helluva better job than most of the media in this town.

    Maybe if the powers that be weren’t so very, very analcephalic, The Guardian could divert it’s attention to say… The Coldest Beer in Town.

    Keep On Keepin On.

  10. shealyisnottheantichrist
    Oct 26, 2007, 4:06 pm

    Not worth a warm bucket of spit?

    He is just jealous of the fact that you beat him at his own game, in court.

    The blog is mightier than the sword.

  11. Mr. Shealy would no doubt consider the fake FEMA press conference held today with NO REPORTERS to be a good example of being “pro active” when it comes to managing public opinion.

    (The deputy director of FEMA took scripted questions about California fires which were asked by his staff and got cable news to broadcast the phoney performance)

  12. IdahoSkeptic
    Oct 26, 2007, 6:04 pm

    Seems to me like the Guardian can dish it out, but can’t take it.

  13. To me, it was more telling that the response to Shealy’s comment was the giggles from some of the council and staff. Someone needs to explain to the council that when you act like you are “above” the common folk, and you hold your head high, all that happens is everyone can see what is inside your nose!

  14. Mr. Shealy is incorrect. People don’t “read the paper.” Fewer and fewer people read the Statesman – and it continues to see slumping circulation despite EXPLOSIVE population growth. He’d be better off starting a blog than try to co-opt the Statesman.

    It’s typical short-sightedness. It’s like advertisers who buy a low-rated radio station because its what they listen to, so “everyone must be.” Boise is one of a very few markets in the US where the top TV station has a higher gross reach than the newspaper.

  15. Geez, this is the lesser of evils isn’t it. Tibbs afterall, WAS one of the spin meisters and the names he called poor Martin Johncox make warm bucket of spit sound like a term of endearment. I’m really torn.;0)

  16. Alan Shealy is not worth a bucket of warm spit – or worth voting for ever again.

    The reason they need more PIGs is because of stupid comments like Mr. Shealy’s. They need to hire someone who can actually talk intelligently.

  17. Fascists at the Gate
    Oct 26, 2007, 11:21 pm

    The surest sign of Shealy’ stupidity, or anyones for that matter, is that they would feel the need to advocate contacting the Statesman and telling them what the council wants in order to grow the city. Talk about unnecessary.

    The statesman is at least as much a part of the problem as Team Dave. In order to stave off their inevitable demise the Daily positively lactates every time someone proposes a new house east of Linder Road. Double-digit growth is the daily’s only hope for avoiding double-digit circulation declines. And, just like the city, they don’t care how much damage the growth causes, as long as it helps keep their personal boat afloat.

  18. Diogenes_of_Boise
    Oct 27, 2007, 12:34 am

    While I agree there should be more citizen participation in the city’s policy making, I agree with Tom that we do have a representative form of government where the elected are charged with setting city policy and budgets.

    I would like to hear some proposals from the Guardian on how to tighten the linkage between our elected officials (specifically, mayor and council) and the citizenry.

    What feedback mechanisms would be best to insure that our representatives are truly following the citizenry’s bidding? Should concerned citizens make more use of the courts to insure elected officials don’t try and bypass state constitutional processes for incurring debt or otherwise obligating the city for projects beyond normal year-to-year operations?

    In sum, what can we do, short of voting people out every four years, to tighten the linkage between our city representatives and the populace at large?

    EDITOR NOTE–The problem is the politicos truly believe the people “need” certain facilities, but they fear the people will turn down funding (bonds).

    I have ALWAYS testified before going to court and so far I have won EVERY time. That is expensive for all concerned and very time consuming, but in the case of Boise, the politicos choose to fight the law or at best circumvent it.

    Now, they are getting around the constitution by overtaxing us in ADVANCE and then making expensive purchases calling the slush fund SAVINGS. I like the binding vote idea for a “shopping list” with what amounts to a line item veto. Afterall, it is OUR money.

  19. Fedup says “Now there’s a guy who says it straight!” about the previous poster, John, who gave us this piece of disinformaiton, “Now they want to spend 6 million dollars to build a kayak park.” This would be funny if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

    As long as some of you keep lying about the kayak park I’ll keep correcting you.

    Most of that $6 million is going to be from PRIVATE DONATIONS, which is how Julia Davis, Ann Morrison and Kathyrn Albertson’s parks were built. So far, the City of Boise has only committed $750,000 to the River Recreation Park.

    The $6 million would include not only the whitewater features but also all of the amenites in Esther Simplot Park including soil remediation, irrigation, sod, soccer fields, restrooms, parking and a canal to connect 3 of the 4 ponds. It would also include rebuilding the 100 year old headgates for the 2 affected canals making them better than before.

    No wonder Shealy seems to have a reputation for contempt. He’s probably tried of people trying to argue their point to him when they don’t have their facts straight to begin with.

    Thought experiment time again. You’re a Home Depot employee and a customer asks you for a circular saw. You show the customer the latest and greatest circular saws. The customer tells you “no, those are hammers, I want to see the circular saws.”

  20. Boisecynic–
    I sympathize with your frustration about uninformed voters. Using your analogy to identifying a saw vs a hammer, Shealy would probably attack the guy with the circular saw to prove his point!

  21. Right again boisecynic! It is ONLY going to cost us $750,000.00 to put a bunch of boulders in the river. The mayor and the council couldn’t find $40,000 to waive the fees for the rescue mission sewer hook-up, but they have 3/4 of a MILLION dollars for a rock-strewn river?? ARE YOU KIDDING??

  22. Grumpy ole guy
    Oct 27, 2007, 11:55 pm

    Everyone uses “statistics” for her/his own gain; but, What are the circulation figures for the Statesman, and the number of hits on the Guardian per day or week? Perhaps our “City fathers” will understand the numbers of readers of blogs and the number of posters thereunto are different, just as are the number of newspaper subscribers and the number of authors of letters to the editor. The condescending tone of the “warm spit” remark is alarming to me, and I hope that the snickers were not an indication that the others agreed with the expression. I hold little reverence for either postion or the holder of the position; but I’d like to think that respect for the position and respect for those represented was mutual. Despite the frequent actions which would point to the contrary. I may be in for a spot of non-voting in some of the races. Certainly there seems to be no clear need to bother to vote in the mayoral race, given the less than a dime’s worth of expressed goals (or, is less than a dime the same as the worth of a pitcher of warm spit?)

  23. Grumpy, the bottom line here is that the Guardian is a royal pain in the collective butts of 4 council members and the mayor. Their lives would be so much easier if “Fraz” would just go away.
    You state that there is “less than a dime’s worth of expressed goals”. I would ask if you have ever spoken with Jim Tibbs? Have you bothered to visit his web-site? Have you taken the time to read any of the 5 position statements Tibbs has released so far? I can’t help but believe that if you made an effort to become informed, you would see HUGE differences between the two.
    A voter has to explore what the challenger wants to do, if elected. An incumbant has to run on what has been, or hasn’t been done during their tenure.
    No CCDC audit in 7 MONTHS!
    No detox center
    No improvement in traffic control
    No improvement in the bus system
    No improvement in the P&Z process
    Net loss of businesses in Boise City.
    A less than truthful budget process( Dept. is only allowed to spend 98% of the annual budget. Must turn back 2% for Mayor’s pet projects.)
    Talks about protecting the foothills while the city has issued over 800 building permits north of the river in the last 4 years.
    Had a very public stand about a gold mine upriver from Boise while he knew that nothing would really change, (except how they got to the mine)
    Has done nothing but talk about the Hop-Scotch growth we have experienced over the last 4 years.
    What about “the biggest party that Boise has ever seen” when the men and women that put their lives on hold for us as they went off to war. Bieter got them some tickets to the bowl game. OORAHH!
    He is just one big “photo op” after another.
    The old west saying certainly applies here. Bieter is “All hat and no cattle!”

  24. I’d rather have kayakers in the river than more bums hanging out on the greenbelt. Where is your neighborhood and if you care for the homeless so much, how about housing them over there?

    Another thing that’s being conveniently left out about the kayak park, as it’s being called by the nattering nabobs of negativsim, the construction costs of $6 million is a ONE TIME cost for something that will last at least 100 years.

    That’s $60,000 per year. Divided by the 200,000 residents of Boise equals 30 cents per year per resident over time. Yeah, sure there will be maintenance costs, what, another buck a year per resident? You could save that by cancelling your dial-up internet sevice. Yeesh.

    Dear BoiseGuardian;

    Please change my moniker to BoiseOptimist and the names of certain others to cynic.

  25. From my blog:


    Kevin Richert,
    editorial page editor, Idaho Statesman

  26. OK, Guardian, maybe you’re right that a couple hundred thousand folks round the region ain’t enough to provide passengers worth stopping for.
    Guess there must be millions or so in West Glacier, Mont., since Amtrak still maintains a station there with train service.
    Amtrak Print Close

    West Glacier, MT (WGL)
    Hwy 2 and Going-to-the-Sun Rd.
    West Glacier, MT 59936

    Station & Service Hours
    triangle The station is open during the following hours:
    Monday 07:30 am – 4:30 pm
    7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    Tuesday 07:30 am – 4:30 pm
    7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    Wednesday 07:30 am – 4:30 pm
    7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    Thursday 07:30 am – 4:30 pm
    7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    Friday 07:30 am – 4:30 pm
    7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    Saturday 07:30 am – 08:30 am
    7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    Sunday 07:30 am – 08:30 am
    7:30 pm – 8:30 pm

  27. Boisecynic: Thanks for pointing out that I generalized the amount of money and what it going to be used for. The point was, don’t we have better things to spend our money on. I know not all money is coming from taxes but $750,000 is no chump change. You state “30 cents per year per resident over time. Yeah, sure there will be maintenance costs, what, another buck a year per resident”, now multiply that by every other project they have done without us getting to vote on it and you have our current property tax. Talk about taxation without representation.

    Let’s spend the 6 million on making the nicest park in the state, and while we walk through the park thinking about how nice our lives are we can talk about the homeless people digging through the garbage and what should be done about them. Sounds like a wonderful place to be. Maybe you, the council and the mayor can all spend your weekends there. Then you guys could ignore the real problems we have in this city/state/country. You should be a politician, you would fit right in.

    The Un-informed Voter.

  28. Grumpy ole guy
    Oct 30, 2007, 8:17 pm

    Cyclops, yes, I have read the web pages and the information I’ve seen in the Statesman. I remain convinced that the differences between Bieter’s and Tibb’s “positions” is very small indeed. This may be a red flag for many, but Brent Coles remains in my mind as a very good Mayor. He put too much faith in one or two of his assistants, but he understood municipal government in a way few before and after him have.

    He understood potential and possibility of city government and moved the City forward. His administration seemed both more open and involved with the citizenry than others. Bieter has disappointed by remaining too much “within” and too little “out of” City Hall and Tibbs shows no indication that he has the talent or ability to lead the City.

  29. Grumpy, I happen to agree with you about Coles. He was indeed “in touch” with the community. He was done in by some dumb personnel choices. I am convinced that if you spent 30 minutes with Tibbs, his logic and leadership would become very apparrent.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: