City Government

Canyon Coppers Violate Public Purpose Law

We noticed a front page picture on the Friday IDAHO PRESS TRIBUNE showing police chiefs from Nampa and Caldwell posing with the Canyon Sheriff and about 20 other police in uniform. Each of them held campaign signs urging a “YES” vote on a ballot question for a new jail.

While well intentioned in their minds, these people used public resources to campaign on one side of an issue to be decided by voters. Whether one is in favor or against the funding for a jail is immaterial. The fact these public employes are using public resources to influence the outcome of an election violates a recent Idaho Supreme Court AMERITEL GBAD decision which ruled the Greater Boise Auditorium District violated the public purpose doctrine when that group used public funds to campaign for a bond.

To put it in perspective, imagine the outcry if the signs had all read, “OBAMA FOR CHANGE.”

No doubt we will hear lame excuses that each was on their lunch hour, etc. It is clear the intent of rally and picture was to influence the election. When a police badge and uniform are used to advocate on behalf of a candidate or cause, it is misuse of a public resource. It is no different than pasting a bumper sticker on a patrol car.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. As long as they were there as representatives of their union or speaking for themselves, I don’t have a problem. However it would be interesting to know if they were on or off the clock.

    EDITOR NOTE–Not many chiefs in the union! The problem is the use of the uniform and badge, one of those chiefs most likely drove a city car to the photo op, etc. Bad form any way you spin it.

  2. Editor:

    Would the same Ameritel Gbad case apply to the Boise City Council if it votes to award a $90,000 contract to promote a pet streetcar project instead of allowing the electorate to decide? Apparently the contract issue is back on the City Council agenda.

    EDITOR NOTE–I am not an attorney, but I play one in court sometimes. With the petition being filed by candidate David Litster, it is not a stretch to say there is certainly a POTENTIAL election. If funds are spent to influence that election, it would certainly seem the law would apply. Without an election pending, it may be hard to connect the dots, but not impossible.

  3. sam the sham
    Oct 23, 2009, 5:57 pm

    do you think that Maryanne Jordan, Alan Shealy and Jim Tibbs are pro-trolly folly? Well, they are not wearing a uniform, but still nor toting signs, but are they without bias?

  4. Flyonthewall
    Oct 23, 2009, 6:09 pm

    The push is on to wrap this up in the badge. The statement by one of the cops in todays paper ” we arrest these guys and they should stay in jail until they go to court” violates a constituional right of INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!

    The only difference here is poor people can’t muster the money to bail out on low level misdemeanors. That’s who fills the jails.

    It is high time taxpayers demand that jails be used for people who really need to be in jail. Catch and release is ok with me for low level stuff. Picking up trash, community service and other alternative sentences is far cheaper for the taxpayers than jail time. Jails are big expensive facilities to build and operate 24/7 and it is high time taxpayers got wise to what is really going on here.

    The commissioners in Canyon County don’t have a clue how much the new jail will actually cost by their own admission. That alone is enough to vote NO on the jail bond.

    The question on the sample ballot reads like a blank check for $46. million. Private business seeking capitalization would never get away with this flimsy approach and lack of a business plan. Add to that the Sheiff of Canyon County is on record at the Idaho Sheirff’s Association website proffering the notion of a Regional Jail and “NOW IS THE TIME”. The plans for this jail project will be 2,000 beds when totally complete. OINK OINK!

  5. What are the editor’s thoughts on the Whitehouse and congress doing exactly the same thing day after day?… they even fly about ten airplanes around and hundrends of staff and cars etc… when going places to influence voters.

    PS: The planes use special fuel made from wasted Whitehouse food to reduce the carbon footprint

    EDITOR–We are against that as well.

  6. Regarding the proposed marketing contract to promote an as-yet approved downtown trolley:

    I wonder if business owners or taxpayers could enjoin the city of Boise from the use of public funds to market a nebulous project? Why hire a marketing firm for something that is still on the table? What constitutes a conflict of interest for legislators? Lots of questions inherent in this ill-advised use of taxpayer money in a recession that has created a new class of nouveau poor struggling to find jobs and maintain their dignity. Trolleys are cutsey today; functional in the past where vehicle traffic was sparse and goods needed to be transported. Mayor Bieter is a native son who should leave childhood memories of choo-choos behind and remember why he was elected. We are not “Rice-a-
    Roni” San Franciso with clanging trolleys; we are Boise, ID. Sorry for the soapbox, but I feel passionate about this issue that is just another example of wasteful spending. Also, I believe cops in uniform are prohibited from campaigning the same as soldiers in uniform.

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