City Government

Councilor Clegg Furious At Park Policy

When it comes to daughters of local politicos in conflict with the law, Meridian’s Tammy de Weerd doesn’t have a corner on the market.

Boise City Councilor Elaine Clegg’s young daughter parked her car in a yellow NO PARKING zone last month at Ann Morrison Park only to find the vehicle had been towed when she returned. The GUARDIAN was told the tow bill was a mere $140 including tow and related fees.
Apparently when it comes to enforcing parking rules, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Even Parks employees have had their cars towed.

The GUARDIAN, through the Idaho Public Records Law, obtained a series of e-mails between the City Councilor and the Park Department. Clegg cited the usual excuse of a “faded yellow stripe on the curb” in her angry letter to the folks at Parks.

In one message Clegg said, “I am especially upset that knowing it might be high school kids you are towing, that parks personnel authorized stranding my 16 year old in the park at dusk by herself. In fact I’m furious about that.”

The Parks staffer assigned to the case was very conciliatory in responses, paraphrasing the famous Bill Clinton line, “I feel your pain.” You can read the exchange here: Download file

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Ironic that she is angry with the Park’s department policy, as if the city council has no hand in approving such policies or have the authority to change such policies.

  2. untamedshrew
    Jun 6, 2008, 4:59 pm

    I see no conflict of interest in Clegg’s letter. She’s not asking for special favors because of her position. Hers is a letter from a mom whose daughter was left stranded in a city park at night. I’m a parent – I’d be furious too if the area wasn’t properly posted.

    You put this in the same category as de Weerd’s daughter getting a scholarship from the City of Meridian? It’s not even close! And yet you don’t even question the scholarship. Why is that do you suppose?

    EDITOR NOTE–We DID question the scholarship, however briefly. What do you think prompted the Daily Paper to do the extensive story they did–and did well in the past couple of days?

  3. It may seem like taking a cheap shot at Clegg, but then, who doesn’t feel like taking a shot at her once in a while? Any way, as one of the main promoters of mass transit in this valley, Elaine should have directed her daughter to ride the bus. In that way she would have increased the demand for, and helped build the case for the need for more and better buses, etc. And, if her daughter would have taken the bus there would not have been a car to get illegally parked, and no ticket to deal with.

  4. Unlike the other responder to this article I do feel that there appears to be a conflict of interest and that is that Ms Clegg used her City of Boise Email account for this communication. She wouldn’t have the availability of this email usage through the City of Boise if it were not for her elected position. If I as a public employee had used my official email account and this fact became known, I feel that I would at the minimum be reprimanded. It has the appearance that she is using her position to negotiate a favorable outcome for her daughter with a department who is under her position being a city counsel person.

  5. I agree with idahokid; she should not have used her official email for this communication. Based on the documents, I do not believe that anything remotely resembling a bribe or threat took place, but it was bad form for a City Councilor to use official city communication channels to complain to a city employee about a private matter. What if the city employee in question saw that the email was from a councilor, read that she was “furious,” and felt it in her best interest to do what she can undo the ticket. In that case a breach of ethics would have occurred, and in such a case Mrs. Clegg could have been in serious trouble. It isn’t always the case that they do, but I feel elected officials should strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

    I’d be very surprised if Councilor Clegg did not have a personal email address, perhaps one from Hotmail or Gmail. It would have simplicity itself for her to go online from her office computer and send the complaint from that address, thereby avoiding any chance that people could look askance at what she was doing. It also might have prevented copies of her email ending up in the Guardian.

    As it stands, big props to Parks and Rec employee Ginger Jewell for keeping things highly professional, sticking to protocol, and being extremely polite the entire time.

  6. Naznarreb–
    The issue is NOT use of a certain e-mail address. The issue is an elected official acting on behalf of a relative. If she worked for fair treatment of all citizens–regardless of age or relationship–no one would be concerned. Afterall, as JJ said, Clegg is in the chain that approves policy towing cars from parks.

  7. I think Councilmen should be able to obtain from the police/parks a code to place on cars of their children and themselves to let the enforcers know who the cars belong to, and then leave them alone. We shouldn’t have our revered elected officials or their family members embarrassed or financially punished this way, should we?

  8. Colleen Fellows
    Jun 8, 2008, 5:18 pm

    According to the emails you posted, Ms. Clegg did not initiate the contact. Rather, she replied to an email that was sent to her from the Park’s Department. Additionally, contrary to Guardian’s implication, there is no suggestion that any fine be expunged. What is apparent is that Ms. Clegg and the rest of us, through her daughter’s situation, have become aware that the Parks Department is towing vehicles, when maybe in the light of public safety, ticketing would be the better option unless it can be shown that a particular car has been ticketed in excess of a specified number of times, or there is immanent danger posed by the particular vehicle, warranting it being towed. To simply have a policy of towing, as according to the Park Event Coordinator, “the police will not write tickets – mostly because in the past people would just say go ahead and give me the ticket and go ahead and park illegally- it was worth the $10-$25 to do so,” is not an adequate plan to address the situation.

    I am a parent, and a such, I understand why Ms. Clegg might be upset at the idea of her daughter being stranded near the Greenbelt at dusk. I doubt there are many people out there that have forgotten that the Greenbelt area is not an area one would like to be stranded at night, especially as a young female.
    In terms of Idahokid’s and Naznarreb’s suggestion that these kids should have taken the bus (there were numerous children stranded), the high school Lacrosse tournament at Ann Morrison Park ran until late in the evening, well into dusk. (According to sunrise/sunset timetable charts ( for Saturday, May 17, 2008, sunset was at 9:04 pm, and twilight at 9:37pm.) ValleyRide’s Saturday schedule shows that the bus does not operate after 6:00 pm. Hence riding the bus to a high school tournament during the daytime on Saturday would be possible, but riding home after dark that evening would not have been.

    In trying to dig up dirt, Guardian completely missed the real story; we found a city policy that needs addressing. I understand the Parks Department’s concern regarding parking, however, it appears that the policy of towing cars creates in itself another concern for public safety. Solving one problem and creating another is not good policy. This is the point that Ms. Clegg makes. In specific regard to Mr. Logic’s suggestion that Ms. Clegg did not work toward fair treatment of all citizens, the point Ms. Clegg makes is certainly directed beyond that of her own daughter to include the well being of everyone’s child. I would agree wholeheartedly with both Ms. Clegg’s conclusion that “whatever we do, stranding kids is a bad idea,” and with Ms. Jewell’s assessment that “we just need to make more effort in educating the public.” In the end, we all need to look at this policy and find a better solution than ad hoc towing, and while we are at it, think about posting a few more signs to boot. –In light of full disclosure, I worked on Ms. Clegg’s ’07 campaign.

    I hope that as a community, we do not loose sight of the big picture of the safety of our children, families, neighborhoods and community as a whole. Let’s work constructively to address these issues and resist the less than helpful “pot shots” that get us nowhere fast.

    EDITOR NOTE– Colleen, based on “Jim Hall asked me to contact you…” it is apparent it is in response to either an e-mail or phone call from Clegg. We doubt Jim Hall took it upon himself to provoke the wrath of a city councilor. They didn’t give us an e-mail, so the GUARDIAN will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume the original contact was a phone call from Clegg. If she sent an e-mail, the city violated the law in responding to my request.

    Colleen, you are simply wrong with regard to a fine. There was no fine–only a $140 tow bill…Parks staff cannot issue tickets. We made no mention of a fine.

    Your argument regarding tickets instead of towing is a policy matter that ultimately is/should be reviewed and approved by the city council. My guess is they probably approved it…there was a big flap over a bunch of cars being towed during a Bronco football game that went into overtime…public was outraged, but officials did nothing to change the policy.

    We agree the situation needs the light of public scrutiny–something we never would have had without the posting on the GUARDIAN!

  9. Hammerin' Hank
    Jun 9, 2008, 10:55 am

    If there was a high school lacross tournament going on at the park, how much danger could the girl have been in at dusk? Enough to be infuriating apparently.

  10. Warren Tyler
    Jun 9, 2008, 11:13 am


    Did Clegg ask you to write this response for her? Just asking, since you were her 2007 campaign manager.

    “Colleen Fellows, Ada County Coordinator, is working in West Ada County on voter identification and event coordination. She was Campaign Manager for Clegg for Council in 2007 and a policy researcher and media strategist for the Bieter for Boise 2003 campaign. She has been involved in numerous local and legislative campaigns, fundraising, and policy research in addition to community volunteer activities.”

  11. This was a cheap shot and Colleen nailed it. The REAL story here is the Parks Department having vehicles towed. If the young lady had been attacked and raped while walking out of the park who do you suppose would be facing a HUGE lawsuit? Rightfully so IMO. The second most important thing in your story is the statement that Boise Police won’t write tickets in the park…EXCUSE ME?? The Boise Police will do what they’re told to do. If someone is telling the police they don’t have to write tickets in the park why not look into THAT?!?

    Public officials are allowed to be human folks. Clegg was playing her rightful role of PO’d mom dealing with a bureaucratic policy that put her daughter in a somewhat dangerous situation. Hopefully Clegg will use her position to change the policy, and possibly the police’s apparent dereliction of duty, in the ticketing and towing practices in the parks.

  12. Colleen Fellows
    Jun 9, 2008, 1:34 pm

    Mr. Tyler,
    No, I felt inclined to write on my own. Notice, I mentioned in my last comment that I worked on the Clegg ’07 Campaign. Nothing to hide there. That bio you are noting was for the Grant for Congress ’08 race. Looking further on Google you would see the City Council race information with my name there, as well as past postings to Boise Guardian. Thanks for asking though.

  13. Dusk? Dark? I bet she wasn’t alone at dusk or dark in the park or wherever she was. I bet she or whoever she was with has a cell phone to call friends, family or a taxi for a ride home. How did she get home that night? What time did she get home? Teach your kid what to do and not to do and save a lot of money!

  14. Looks like we got the elites against us average folks.

  15. Yeah, using the city e-mail for the complaint does smell a bit like Wide-Stance Craig showing the cop his Senate card.
    As for the cops not issuing tickets — they can if they want to, since the park is city property (BSU is state property, so it’s a bit different there).
    But, of course, writing a ticket doesn’t get the car out of the way immediately, which may be necessary depending on exactly where it was parked.
    On the flip side, having a big tow truck backing up through traffic to get lined up properly to get the parked vehicle, then make its way back out to the street is a bit of a traffic jam in itself.
    On the lighter side, why do they call it a “park” if you can’t park there?

  16. Could the towing of a City Council member’s daughter’s car have anything to do with a new City committee recently established to look at Parks and Rec. towing practices and contracts with towing companies?

    Nah…probably not.

  17. Rod in SE Boise
    Jun 9, 2008, 7:40 pm

    And just how does the ticket writer, tow truck operator, cop, park police, or whoever, know that a car belongs to a teenage girl or to an ax-murderer, when deciding wether or not to tow a particular car? Why should the age or gender of the driver of the car have anything to do with this issue? That is equivalent to saying we will tow the cars of those who had orange juice with breakfast but not tow the cars of those who had tomato juice with breakfast.

    And, far more importantly, why do we the people grant “the authorities” the authority to tow ANY car EVER under ANY circumstances (unless of course the car has been abandoned)? That just isn’t right.

  18. Justified? Not justified? Cover-up? Influence peddling? When ya’ll get to “when an air-headed teenager doesn’t think about the consequence of her actions, dumb things,(or worse) happens”. Seems to me, the good councilor should be P.O’d at her daughter first.

  19. Interesting observation – I sent an e-mail to Clegg and to Ginger expressing my disappointment that Clegg directs her anger at the authorities instead of at her law-breaking daughter, and expressing my appreciation for Ginger’s professionalism in dealing with the totally out of line city council person. I got a thank you note from Ginger but, surprise, no response from Clegg. I hope her official e-mail inbox, which she misuses to try to intimidate other public employees, is full of mail from citizens who are furious at her arrogance.

  20. Exactly Rod, unless it’s an abandoned vehicle or blocking traffic just keeping writing tickets. That way nobody is put in danger and the longer they break the law the worse the fine.

  21. Rod in SE Boise
    Jun 10, 2008, 7:51 pm

    Thank you for your support, Old Blue.

    “The authorities” have far too much authority.

  22. And exactly how do we now Ms. Clegg did or did not give her daughter an earful? Too bad those conversations aren’t subject to FIA rules.

  23. I’ve got an idea. Perhaps Ms. Clegg could tell us the exact location of the faded yellow paint area, and we the people could go take a look for ourselves. If Ms. Clegg doesn’t read this forum, perhaps Colleen could pass along the message.

    EDITOR NOTE–Cynic, how about you do an inspection for us and report condition of stripes–also note if there are any NEWLY PAINTED yellow curbs. Perhaps that would tell us a lot as well.

  24. Oh shoot. I came looking for some juicy and scandalous exchange in the email and got nothin’. But I have been interested in this towing stuff since all those people had their cars towed at the Humanitarian Bowl. There is something not right about towing cars out of the park all the time. It feels like a scam. It reminds me of that tow truck company that was constantly booting cars in old Boise a few years back. It’s bullying and verging toward extortion. I wish the park department would take on a more Boise-friendly tone. As far as Ms. Clegg, she is the mother of a juvenile so she has to deal with this situation with her daughter. And the last I looked, every organization I know of allows employees to use their work email for personal business. Since there was no juicy scandal in the email exchange I have to come down on the side that this is a NON-ISSUE and I vote Dave not try to drag people through the mud when it is not deserved. And on a side note, I tend to believe the saying that “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”…and for that reason I have respect for just about anyone who devotes their time to serving the public whether or not I agree with their political views. Nothing is more rancid than an Monday morning armchair quarterback whose ONLY contribution to society is criticism. Not that I am pointing any fingers at anyone in particular, but just wanted to throw that thought out to the universe for examination.

  25. Daniel, you are treating the G-Man like he is a lowly politico. Had he not brought it to the attention of readers, no one would be aware of draconian policies you mention. Obviously the Councilor didn’t change things after the football overtime fiasco which resulted in the towing you mention. She only felt inclined to complain when her daughter’s car got snagged. You owe Dave an apology.

  26. Stationed in D.C. with the military I read the Guardian to keep up with what is happening in my fine hometown. It always brings a chuckle to me when I read some of the responses to the postings on here, so here are my two cents (or about .001 cent with today’s declining dollar value).
    If Ms. Clegg were truly worried about her daughter along with some of the other responses on here, why was her daughter alone and at dusk in a city park? Common sense as a father of a 17, 13 and 6 year old tells me if my kids are out at that time (which brings up the question, isn’t dusk in Boise now like 9 p.m.?) why? I am sure her daughter, as it seems just about 16 year old, has a cell phone and Ms. Clegg could have called her daughter to know where her underage daughter was. This seems like responsible parenting to me (yes I know you can’t track a 16 year old to save your life, but nonetheless it returns to how your children are raised), but then again, I am a simple guy.
    So in the park there are not only the “faded yellow curbs” but as I do recall there are also signs everywhere saying that your car will be towed. So either a faded yellow curb or the sign right there should have been the clue to not park there.
    The next question is where in the park was her daughter that she didn’t see, hear or notice a tow truck hooking up to her car and taking it away? This would lead me to believe that she was not in the vicinity of the vehicle and therefore took it upon herself to walk the park by herself at dusk. So this would seem to invalidate the issue of what if she was attacked. She apparently was nowhere near her car in if she was attacked so either way the car being there would not have been an issue.
    I do feel sorry for the teen that her car was taken, but this is one of those great life lessons that teach you to ensure you know where you are leaving your vehicle so you don’t have it towed.

  27. The only issue I see here is that someone parked illegally and the vehicle was towed. I guess it just happens to be Ms. Clegg’s daughter…

    I can understand being upset at leaving a young teenage girl stranded, luckily we have cellphones to contact others. But, the person(s) who wrote the policy, who had the car towed, and the tow truck company did not specifically target Ms. Clegg or her daughter.

    Is Ms. Clegg in any higher of a position as a citizen of Boise or Idaho and should therefore have a different response from the city’s respective departments? I think not…her daughter did something illegal (maybe due to lack of respect since we all know NOT to park in yellow or red zones), she and her parents payed the consequence, life goes on.

    I bet Ms. Clegg wouldn’t give a damned if it was someone else’s daughter that was stranded. She might say she would since this incident has happened, but prior to this…I seriously doubt it.

    Finally, as a former government employee. You may use your government email account for personal business, but must know that it can become public record quite easily. In fact, that is something which is often pointed out.

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