Shame On CWI Apartheid Meeting Plans

The fledgling College of Western Idaho–approved by voters last year–is about to get off on the wrong foot with plans to have “invitation only” meetings to gather information to shape the future of the college.

It is inappropriate, demeaning, and illegal to hold meetings with “common citizens” in public and then conduct a similar set of closed meetings with the elite “community and business leaders and elected officials.”

Such “back room” strategy of apartheid is offensive to the GUARDIAN and exemplifies all that is wrong with local politics in Idaho. It is a slap in the face to the majority of citizens who voted to tax themselves–only to be excluded from the REAL decision making process. Even if it is an “innocent oversight,” it is shameful to even contemplate private meetings with the rich and powerful. At least their decision was based on money and power rather than race.

Nice gesture to meet the public Aug. 21 at 7pm in the Nampa Civic Center and then again at the Boise Center on the Grove at 7pm Aug. 28. However, Idaho’s Open Meeting Law demands TOTAL ACCESS, even to those of us who are not of the privileged minority known as “community and business leaders.”

The Chamber of Commerce can limit their meetings to Idaho Elite, but a government funded and managed institution of higher learning must abide by the Open Meeting Law.

Shame on CWI officials for even contemplating the idea of excluding those of who pay their salaries from a “deliberation” aimed at shaping the future of students who may someday attend the school.

Thanks to the Daily Paper for publishing the plans for “apartheid meetings.” CWI didn’t send us that press release.

UPDATE 3p.m. Monday 8/18/08
The GUARDIAN obtained a copy of the invitation to the “STAKEHOLDERS” which reads in part as follows:
“”… we are hosting a series of “Community Conversations” in Canyon and Ada counties on August 21 and August 28, respectively. You have been recommended to participate in a stakeholder focus group. Your session is being held on Thursday, August 28, at the Boise Centre on the Grove in the Peregrines Room. The event will start promptly at 1:30 and will end by 5:00. If you are unable to attend this session and would still like to participate, please contact us to select another session.

“These sessions will be comprised of other invited guests in the community, representing business/industry, economic development, state and local government, parents, and higher education. To ensure broad representational voice in the process, we are also holding two evening sessions on the same dates that will be open to the general public.”

It seems clear whether intended or not, the message is: “We are having private sessions for you Mr. Elite and evening sessions for the public.” The press release (which we also obtained) made absolutely NO MENTION that “Daytime sessions are also available for public interactive participation.” In fact, the release made no mention of the private “STAKEHOLDER” sessions–the Daily Paper provided that tidbit.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The Boise Picaayune
    Aug 16, 2008, 8:43 am

    Usually the powers that be have the sense to label these shenanigans a “Blue Ribbon Committee” or some similarly exalted moniker.

    EDITOR NOTE–Even those “subagencies” which make RECOMMENDATIONS to the governing body are subject to the open meeting law. City councils and county commissions are well informed on the issue, thanks to the Attorney General staff. They now have new students at CWI.

  2. The comments from the “common citizens” will be recorded and then ignored, except for any comments that may support their hidden agenda.

    The real power players (“community and business leaders and elected officials”) always desire to operate in secret because the unwashed masses (as the “common citizens” are known to the elite) really don’t know whats best and therefore deserve no real access to the process!

    Keep shining the light in the dark corners. It makes the critters nervous and keeps them scurrying!

  3. I hope that a few interested “commoners” in this class-based society try to crash the closed meetings, if the Open Meeting law doesn’t accomplish its purpose first.

  4. Maybe you should let people know that they can be a CWI Trustee by simply filing prior to the deadline of September 1. All the Trustee’s are up for election in the general election this fall. But people need to file to run for the office.

    They also need to be held to account for the property tax levy. Remember, they promised to NOT raise more than $4,000,000 from property taxes. Recently the daily paper had an article indicating that they just might exceed that amount.

  5. Some things never change — including the willingness of the “unwashed masses” to vote for these programs. You’d think we’d at least learn to make it more difficult for our leaders to get what they want. I quess we all have more money than we know what to do with and are therefore willing to vote for these programs and the accompanying taxation.

    As said earlier, thanks for the shining light.

  6. This is exactly why we should ALWAYS be suspicious of government (local, state, and federal). No matter how good natured they tell you a plan is going to be, there is always more to the story and they don’t want you, the taxpayer, involved.

  7. Sam the sham
    Aug 16, 2008, 2:34 pm

    it does appear that they are just taking on the example set by our federal government.
    along with Rod, I say keep on shining that bright light into the darkness of our locals.

    i do recall a sociology class when a disgruntled student asked Dr. Baker “So do you actually think that people in the government get together in some big room with people in big business and make secret deals without our knowledge!!!!” Dr. Baker paused for just a moment and replied “Yes. Yes, that is exactly what I think.”

  8. Another example of how Thomas Jefferson’s words resonate with me:

    “Eternal vigilance is an essential element of a democratic system. A citizenry that takes the good judgment of its leaders for granted is a society that leaves itself vulnerable to disappointment and failure.”

    Thankfully we have news sources such as the Guardian.

  9. Grumpy Ole Guy
    Aug 16, 2008, 7:54 pm

    Maybe they should invite only the people who actually voted in this election to a meeting for planning. After all they are the “interested stake holders” in CWI. What an ironic travesty of openness this is. Although if Dr. Kustra is the model for this this it wouldn’t surprise me, since he often appears to prefer to operate within a smaller goup of yes people, than out in the open. So, is there a lawyer in the house? to challenge this as a violation of State Law?


  10. I guess the first question is: Will they have a quorum of trustees, or will one or two trustees meet with a small group of business/community leaders?

    I think they can circumvent open meeting rules in some fashion that way.

    Or, they can open the meeting to anyone but announce that only invited speakers will be allowed to talk. Isn’t that what the legislature does?

  11. I have always suspected that all the “real decisions” are made in the room none of us ever get to see or be invited into when things are decided for us “little people”.

    What you cited simply proves to me that public meetings are a farce mandated by law but in reality mean absolutely nothing. The decisions are made behind closed doors and we get to pony up to pay the bills.

  12. ” … but a government funded and managed institution of higher learning must abide by the Open Meeting Law.”

    Kinda wonder how that applies to the Legislature. Are the attendees at the R’s closed-door cauci paid by taxes– i.e., government-funded?

    City Council, etc., of course, can have closed-door (no lowly folks allowed) sessions by calling them personnel or planning or somesuch meetings. There, they can decide whatever, then come out into the open and vote (actually, I suppose, repeat the vote) in public, and it’s OK.
    Or are they gonna try to tell us they don’t actually decide before the doors are unsealed? Hah!

    It’s government, G-man. It keeps happenin’ — and, as Smokey says, “Only you can prevent” it.

    Keep sniffin’ the air and reporting the stench, Guardian.

  13. Sam the sham
    Aug 18, 2008, 9:07 am

    Gordon – thank you for reminding me of that old song I learned back at Monroe School when kids learned folk and traditional songs. And we sang it at summer camp to remind us that we can prevent forest fires.

    Smokey the Bear, Smokey the Bear
    Prowlin’ and a-growlin’ and a sniffin’ the air
    He can find a fire before it starts to flame
    That’s why they call him Smokey,
    That was how he got his name.

    With a Ranger’s hat and shovel and a pair of dungarees,
    You will find him in the forest, always sniffin’ at the breeze.
    People stop and pay attention when he tells ’em to beware,
    ‘Cause ev’ry body knows that he’s the Fire Preventin’ Bear.
    (can’t have a good revolution without a song in your heart.)

  14. OK, everyone. I am a big fan of the Guardian, but I did some sleuthing this morning and found that the facts need to be expressed related to CWI and the meetings they are holding this week and next. I am just going to lay them out. 1) First of all, the meetings are ALL open to the public. And, the media have been invited to ALL of the meetings. 2) The meetings are being publicized to the community through both ads and news releaases. 3) Anyone can attend the day meetings. There was no attempt to invite “special” people only. If someone wants to attend, you can call CWI and sign-up or just show-up. These ARE OPEN MEETINGS and the public is being notified. 4) Invites for the day session were sent out to hundreds of people in the community. They ranged from teachers to mayors. The attempt was to ensure CWI gets feedback, especially from those who have an interest in CWI. The most important people attending will not be the “big wigs” – but, teachers, high school conselors, etc. I commend CWI for trying to ensure that feedback is given vs. just posting meeting notices and not proactively trying to get people there. But, again – the day sessions are for everyone and media are invited to report back to the community what happened. 5) Most public meetings are held in the evening, so that the public can attend. That makes sense. People who don’t attend in the day, will have a chance to attend at night. Meetings are being help in both Ada and Canyon Co. – I think this is great. 6) The same materials are being used for the day session as the night. There is no attempt to hide information from the public. 7) The statement about CWI fledging is off – they are working with Sellend right now and are offering classes and they are all set to begin classes in Jan. What they do offer will probably be influenced by the public meetings. CWI may have to cut back the budget from what was initially proposed, but people – this isn’t the best economy right now. Everyone is cutting back. I’m happy they are being cautious. This is smart business. 8) The board was slated to meet before the public meetings. The meeting has been cancelled because it is so important to them that public feedback is gathered. That doesn’t sound like a bunch of people “sneaking around.” 9) Bottom line, there is a lot of misinformation in the Guardian’s post. Not sure why. Thus, a lot of fun was had today at the expense of CWI. If you are interested in giving feedback, don’t post on this site. Call CWI and find out how you can attend one or all of the meetings. Give your feedback there. Ask questions there.
    Thanks – I hope everyone will attend. Bill

    EDITOR NOTE–In the interest of open forum, the GUARDIAN asks that you give your feedback wherever you choose. We would NEVER ask readers or citizens to refrain from voicing their opinions anywhere. We find it refreshing to hear CWI is opening all meetings to the public. Perhaps they need to clarify the issue with the Daily Paper as well.

  15. PS – I wasn’t literally asking people to not post on this site. That is what makes it great. I was just trying to encourage people to attend the meetings and get the facts. . .express their opinion. And, the meetings have always been open. Yes, clarification should be made with the Statesman.

  16. I don’t think apartheid means what you think it means. I’d think a page so progressive as this would avoid using such words to describe proportionately minor civic behavior. You do a disservice to all those who suffered.

    EDITOR NOTE–It means a system “Apart” and when you give special treatment to one group APART from the rest of society it is indeed APART. We specifically mentioned the situation was NOT racially based.

  17. Mr. Logic – It says in the invite that parents and students are invited. And, I am one of them. I don’t know how or why I was invited because I am not elite. I am a lower middle-class, single father of three girls (mom died last year). I want CWI because that may be the only way my girls can go to college. I guess there was some kind of big mix-up in the invites. Although, I don’t think I will be the only one of my kind there. Did the Boise Guardian run a background check on everyone invited? It seems so since they are lumping everyone into the “elite” category. I’m sorry, but I am both a little offended and saddened.

    I called someone at the Statesman and she told me that they got the info. about the day sessions from someone at CWI before the story was written and there was no attempt to cover anything up. And, for the record, I don’t think I was chastising David. I was just putting the facts out there based on two good sources.

    Thank you CWI for working so hard to ensure people are at the public sessions. It seems so ironic that the issue here is holding private meetings, yet CWI is really trying to ensure that just the opposite happens. Also, I guess thank you Boise Guardian for helping CWI publicize these important sessions! Too bad “elite” and “apartied” were used when it appears just the opposite is happening.

  18. I’m just curious as to when the CWI trustees are going to tell us what the CWI tax rate will be. Will this come out before the election on November 4?

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