Trolley PR Transparency Not So Clear

The streetcar bid was Cronin’s wish
Now there seems to be something amiss
The facts are apparent
And may not be transparent
But we can certainly see through this!

Chalk one up for the DAILY PAPER! Using the public records law and some good old fashioned reporting skills, Cynthia Sewell raises some good questions about Team Dave’s efforts at forcing a trolley upon residents without a vote.

Seems there was a “prior relationship” with the CRONIN PR firm and the city has been splitting the PR tactics between the CCDC and the city. The fact was not previously disclosed to councilors looking into potential conflicts of interest with the PR bid. CCDC claims to be apart from the city when it comes to oversight and governance, but they are total partners when it comes to spending tax money.

Part of the strategy was to have the CCDC pay for “cheerleading” the trolley proposal while having the city pay for “outreach education,” thus effectively “laundering” the expenses through the CCDC. Any way you cut it, the city is spending taxes to promote a project.

Our next hope on this issue is newly elected councilor TJ Thomson, who has voiced support of a public election. Let’s hope his word is good. Like councilor Jim Tibbs, TJ has the potential of being a lone voice in the urban wilderness.

If Team Dave stays the course on this trolley folly, they are likely to get unseated by irate voters–many of whom voted for Dave Bieter on an “ethics ticket.”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. TJ Thomson is a self-admitted rail enthusiast. He will likely say nothing except to be another pro-streetcar minion. Even if by some chance I am wrong, Bieter doesn’t need his vote anyway.

    Even though the plot slightly thickens, the good old boys will deny, deflect, and suppress – and the citizenry will be good little sheepies.

  2. As long as 4-6% of the citizenry decides on the mayor and city council, nothing will change. The only thing the incumbents have to do is generate support from the People’s Republic of the North End and it will be a done deal!

  3. It’s been clear that the council votes the way the mayor leads them too (except the pesky representatives that know where the money comes from). The Statesman performed “actual reporting” because it was a slow news day and there was some column inches to fill and they didn’t know what else to do to fill those inches.

    Cyclops — Peoples Republic of the North End – Nice. I wish I’d thought of that moniker.

    EDITOR NOTE–That story took a lot more than a “slow news day” to nail down. Give credit where credit is due!

  4. In my opinion, this whole approach to a unneeded trolley is an embarrassment. There is no excuse for Councilwoman Jordan’s omissions to other council members. Too bad we can’t undo the election. There are always censure and recall, if anybody cares. I hope Cynthia follows up with research into ethics and other laws for all involved.

  5. The Mayor and Council frankly just do not care about what anyone – including this site or the Daily paper thinks. They will do what they want anyway – even if it is shady. They have always worked this way. Why would they change?

  6. Marg,

    Sadly, I agree with you. However, if taxpayers, the media and political parties(whether the officials claim to be non-partisan or not) started holding them accountable, maybe things could change. The public and press have a propensity to put elected officials on pedestals; in some cases because they’ve been in office a long time or have done “good deeds” along the way. It is incumbent upon the media, especially, to steer clear of glorification of those who serve the electorate.

  7. untamedshrew
    Nov 19, 2009, 5:22 pm

    Oh, right. Politicians … yes, the public sure seems to have a lot of trust and confidence in elected officials these days. The Statesman’s recent coverage of the streetcar issue … sure is putting Mayor Bieter up on a pedestal.


  8. Let’s see… Shrew. Webster’s New world, (a nagging, mean woman). Wow! Just where in City Hall are you employed??

  9. untamedshrew
    Nov 20, 2009, 4:55 pm

    Gee, thanks for defining that Cyclops. I had no idea what it meant.

  10. “If Team Dave stays the course on this trolley folly, they are likely to get unseated by irate voters”–methinks thou doth protest too much. It didn’t work so well in the last election when this was the only issue. But hope springs eternal, eh?

    I think the city would be foolish to let the opportunity pass them by to get the feds to pay for it. A little seed money to get $40 million with a potential of billions in revenue for Boise is just what the mayor should be doing. In fact he should be voted out if he does let the opportunity pass him by.

    I feel sorry for Brian Cronin. He didn’t ask for any of this negative publicity. He was asked to help and he did. I see Cynthia making lots of smoke but I don’t see any fire yet. What was supposed to happen here? Was Cronin automatically precluded from bidding on a competitive bid project because his team sat down with CCDC for a couple hours? Are the three other bidders making valid claims they were cheated in this process? I just don’t see the issue.

    EDITOR NOTE–I don’t think Team Dave or the council see it either! The GUARDIAN sees weekly anti-trolley comments to the mayor hotline, street talk against it, and pretty negative press from the Daily Paper as well as others. It is Team Dave that is making it a one issue race at this time. You will recall the GUARDIAN thought the council race was “like watching paint dry.” All it will take is a viable candidate and I freely admit there is none in sight yet. I would hate to see a one issue guy or gal win just as a protest.

    “Was Cronin automatically precluded from bidding on a competitive bid project because his team sat down with CCDC for a couple hours?”—isn’t $2K pretty high for a couple hour sit down? Even liberal lawyers don’t make that much!

  11. The underlying question is: does Boise really need a trolley? Federal bucks still come out of our pockets. Unemployment continues to rise, property values continue to plunge. Why don’t we work on solutions to those problems, not on frivolities that can wait. I stand by my criticisms, although I respect your opinions as well. Are there any ordinary citizens on any of these panels that make decisions for voters? All I saw in today’s Daily article are BIG NAME executives and flacks clueless of what the populace at large is facing. Should Brian have applied? In my opinon, no, because he has a definite conflict of interest. Dump the trolley, period. Dump
    officials who force unwise, expensive projects on the rest of us. Otherwise, Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Oh now Dave lets not get personal. Cronin doesn’t have a one man operation. And a vocal few does not a majority make. In the grander scheme of things I’m waiting to see if the money salutes. If it doesn’t then its a tough sell and will probably spell the end of the inquiry. But if it comes through, then the hard work begins. Didn’t I see somewhere that the Orchard overpass was going to cost $169 million. We’ll not realize even a small amount of revenue from that project yet the expense certainly gives some perspective in what the mayor is asking. I acknowledge the streetcar is a boondoggle for developers, just look at the task force, but its also a good planning tool and overall beneficial to Boise. It ain’t no parking garage? 😉

  13. Sisyphus:

    How is a streetcar a good planning tool and beneficial to Boise?

    Here’s a good transportation plan that benefits the populace:

    Today, Albertsons donated $50,000 to the Idaho Food Bank to buy fuel for trucks to pick up donations of food for the hungry. The IFB estimates a 30 percent climb in the number of people needing food assistance this winter. The city of Boise could easily pony up with a $90,000 donation to the IFB, as long as it has money to burn. This could be an annual rivalry to top the Broncos-Vandals match up, and it would a win-win scenario.

    Oh, by the way, I would like a baby blue Mercedes sports car and a black puppy dog for Christmas. Aint gonna happen this year. As for those who would push pet projects at this time, I say, “Let them eat cake, or crow” in 2010-2012!

  14. Please correct me but aren’t we looking at a $9,000,000.00 deficit in the city already? And we want to add to that?
    It is kind of like when Oprah gave away all those cars. If you can’t afford to pay the taxes or registration fees, what good are the cars??

  15. I must be upfront—I do not trust tj Young. I am sure The Bieter Bunch has their eyes on the 60 million dollars from Obama and needs city residents to pony up the 20 million dollars to get it. I am bracing for my property taxes to go up—like I can afford it.

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