City Government

Boise Deceives Citizens On Hammer Flats

Any trust citizens may have had in Team Dave evaporated with the sale of Hammer Flats which was consumated in secret and announced in the Idaho Statesman Thursday.

The GUARDIAN QUESTIONED since March the motivation of Boise’s purchase of the winter deer range using Foothills levy funds. We have filed public records requests which were deflected for nearly two weeks only to wake up to a friendly story this morning on page one of the Daily Paper.

We can only hope the Daily Paper is merely a pawn in this game, being blatantly manipulated by the Team Dave’s spin machine. The GUARDIAN’S last public records request was delayed with the promise, “We will provide the information by May 27” (the day the Statesman published the friendly story).

Dave Bieter and the Boise City Council have betrayed a promise to operate city government “transparently.” Instead they have operated in secret behind closed doors and deceived citizens by using Boise taxpayer funds to act as “banker” for the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

If the light of public knowledge threatens the dealings of city government–regardless how noble the cause–the deal is probably flawed.

While we support the purported intent of the Foothills Levy –preservation of open space in the foothills–the secret manner in which our city government operates is shameful. It is no wonder there is so little confidence in government at all levels. State law permits, but certainly doesn’t mandate “executive sessions” (secret meetings) for land deals.

Look for a series of shady land swaps, tax deductions for developers, and legal challenges before this is over–that is par for the course with Team Dave. The deal is not clean and it will ultimately benefit developers.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Porcupine Picayune
    May 27, 2010, 8:44 am

    And the electorate will respond thusly : B-a-a-a-a-a…!

    That’s why we have a Mayor who brags about winning by a “Landslide” last election, with 67.something% of the Vote.

    Votes CAST.

    Which represents less than 9% of those ELIGIBLE to vote in that election.

    A Black Hole @ 8th & Main? B-a-a-a-a-a…!

    Police sodomize a man with a Tazer? B-a-a-a-a-a…!

    Gentrification, homogenization and assimilation of a once unique city? B-a-a-a-a-a…!

    Broken promises of audits and institution of prudent and acceptable business practices amongst the city’s numerous “quasi governmental” agencies? B-a-a-a-a-a…!

  2. Where's the Beef?
    May 27, 2010, 9:22 am

    This is the third thread alleging nefarious dealings on the part of team Dave with no substantiation.

    Unless the G is resorting to pure slander, it is overdue for you to make your case. Where’s the beef?

  3. You were given a promise that you’d receive information by March 27th? You’re saying they put you off for two months?

    EDITOR NOTE–Our latest request was made May 13. City responded within 72 hours that it would take longer and eventually offered the MAy 27 date. We asked them SPECIFICALLY (apart from the records request) if there was a land deal in the works.

  4. Dave, Your apparent vendetta with “team Dave” has clouded your vision. Using foothills levy funds to broker such a deal as Hammer Flats is entirely within the intent and spirit of the citizen-passed initiative. Such negotiations have resulted in some excellent acquisitions and swaps and have made the $10 million go much further than anyone could have expected. If you were a bit less antagonistic toward city hall, you might not get scooped so easily. Last time I checked, real estate negotiations are exempt from public disclosure.

    EDITOR NOTE–I will post your comments, but I deeply resent your characterization of me. While the law ALLOWS secret negotiations of real estate deals, it doesn’t mandate secret deals. I can think of no reason for a secret deal between two government agencies other than to preclude public discourse.

    With regard to being “scooped” by the Statesman because of my attitude, your perception speaks volumes.

  5. Casual Observer
    May 27, 2010, 11:34 am

    I don’t see where selling to IFG is illegal. And, it seems to me that putting money back into the levy fund is a good thing.

    EDITOR NOTE–what illegal sale or payment are you talking about? We haven’t seen any nor have we written about any illegal sale. Do you know something we haven’t heard about?

  6. Casual Observer
    May 27, 2010, 1:00 pm

    First – Huh? Please reread my previous post.

    Second, Dceipt carries a negative connotation. I would agree that the city was deceitful if they claimed they were getting the land for free when in fact they were paying several million. However just then reverse is true. Having told Boise citizens they spent $4 million it turns out we are not as poor as we thought. Cool!

    If anyone was deceived it would be non-Boise Idaho citizens who may be on the hook. But even there, if rumors are true and the souce of IFGs funds are long overdue federal monies, they ae not on the hook either. That is about as close to free land as it comes. And that is very very cool!

    EDITOR NOTE–Our problem is the secrecy between two government agencies. We have always opposed development in the area. There are no doubt more details to surface.

  7. Brooke Seidl
    May 27, 2010, 1:32 pm

    It’s obvious you have a very unique “slant” as you like to call it. I have researched this in depth and I have found the city did no wrong, and believe it or not, DID A GOOD THING HERE. Your rants against the Mayor, or “Team Dave” as you so disrepectfully call his administration and all of your EDITORS NOTES make it pretty clear that you are not objective AT ALL. I think it’s hilarious you got scooped. Why don’t you find something noteworthy to write about instead of your conspiracy theorist nonsense?

  8. Guardian pwned again. Just like that railroad story earlier this month.

  9. Open Space Lover
    May 27, 2010, 2:45 pm

    Dave, I must disagree with you on this issue and agree with Syringa. This deal is a good one for all beneficiaries, and so far it doesn’t appear to have been done in violation of any laws, despite your conclusion that it will involve “shady land swaps” and that “[t]he deal is not clean.” Let’s withhold judgment until the process unfolds and just celebrate that there will NEVER be McMansions built on pristine and oh-so-needed wildlife habitat. We elect our leaders to represent the public’s interests, and while they don’t always adhere to that mandate, they don’t always have to ask our permission either if they are working within the legal framework. If the deal works as reported, the land will be preserved for wildlife use and public enjoyment [which is not synonymous with public use – sorry Kangas] and more money will be banked in the Foothills Preservation Fund. I am disappointed that your article comes across as bitter and vengeful – quite different from your normal reporting style.

  10. Dave,

    You have been accusing “team Dave” of sinister “motivation” behind all sorts of city affairs–for two months now on the Hammer Flat deal. You attribute to “citizens” your personal opinions. Perhaps you have been deceived and your trust has evaporated, but I doubt you had much to begin with.

    It seems pretty clear to this citizen that the “motivation” behind the Hammer Flat deal was to stop its ill-advised development and protect prime wildlife habitat in the foothills. Those on the city team that were able to pull this off–at no cost to the foothills levy fund–deserve our praise–as does Tony Jones, who single-handedly stalled development until the time was ripe to do what’s being done.

    There has been no “betrayal.” There are very good reasons for lack of transparency in public agency real estate transactions. The most important is protecting public resources, including funds.

    Your “Guardian”ship of the public interest would be a lot more convincing if you’d tone down the rhetoric and report what you know.

  11. It amazes me just how short some people’s memories are. Remember when the mayor was “all for” the development of Hammer? Remember when our mayor said that “the emphasis of growth should be to the south and east of Boise”? Just where did ya’ll think he was talking about? Let’s look at this from a behind the scenes perspective.

    IFG: We want Hammer Flats to use it as a wintering area for deer. The problem is we don’t have the money to buy it, and if we tell the legislature we want it, they will hang the lot of us from a fencepost.

    Team Dave: NO PROBLEM! What if the city bought it as an addition to the foothills preservation effort?

    IFG: That won’t work. If we own it we can limit the public access. If the city owns it, they have to give the public access.

    Team Dave: Well then, how about we buy it and then swap it to you for some other piece of property that we can claim is of greater value?

    IFG: That would work. The only problem there is that we don’t have ownership to any property that is worth anything.

    Team Dave: NO PROBLEM! We just need to TELL the little people that it is valuable. We already did it with that junk desert south of the city. They (the little people) will believe anything!

    IFG: DEAL!!!!

    So now because our mayor has done a complete flip-flop on his position about developing Hammer, there are some of you that want to give him a pass on this? In a year, or two, when the hang gliders, the mountain bikers, the hikers, the naturalists are locked out, will ya’ll come forward and admit the Guardian was right after all? Didn’t think so!!
    Oh, and by the way 64.01% Elaine, you should be ashamed! tsk,tsk. One more afterthought. Just exactly when did the city of Boise become the BANK for the IFG???

  12. You all are missing the point Dave is trying to make. The levy tax money is supposed to be used to purchase foothills land for the recreation use of taxpayers. It was not intended to be used for the short term funding of other govt. agencies. There has to be a cost to taxpayers with all of these financial transactions and land swaps. I can think of a lot of fees that are associated with real estate transactions. And if Dave seems a little critical about “Team Dave”, he has plenty of reasons. This city govt. is far from transparent. The taxpayers have a right to know what their elected officials are up to. Keep it up Dave:)

  13. Maybe we should focus those damned government surveillance cameras on this deal 😉 of course it would have to be done after hours at the request of a patrol officer.

  14. Porcupine Picayune
    May 27, 2010, 4:54 pm

    Dearest 64.01% [ in reality, 8.7% ], et al…

    How anyone can make an argument against those who advocate for the transparent, ethical and efficient government we deserve is beyond me.

    If it were up to y’all, we’d probably still be paying a Tea Tax to the Crown!


  15. We absolutely have to GET THESE CROOKS OUT OF CITY HALL!!!!!
    Thank you, Guardian.
    This is the only media for real transparency.

  16. Mr. Guardian
    My bet is Boise City paid for the ground and then they will “trade” for some worthless piece of ground that the Fish and Game have. And it will be done with friendly appraisers.

    The citizens of Boise will be in a lose lose situation. We paid out our tax money for open space… sure not close space… and then the city will end up with a worthless building or property that the Fish game own that they can’t sell.

    And of course both properties will be off the tax rolls so our taxes will need to be increase again.

    The only good news in this whole story that no one has reported is that Sky line will probably owe the IRS a boat load of tax on the deficiency of the Short sale.

  17. Where's the Beef
    May 27, 2010, 7:14 pm

    Dave, the fact that you have been asked for proof of illegal activity, and have failed to provide any, even though you seem to have plenty of time to impugn other people’s opinions, leads me believe your pockets are empty.

  18. Dean Gunderson
    May 27, 2010, 7:53 pm

    Here’s an excerpt from the first Foothills Conservation Advisory Committee Report to the Mayor & City Council (May 2002). This Committee is charged with providing guidance and oversight for all Foothills levy expenditures.

    “The Committee’s meetings are conducted in accordance with Idaho Open Meetings Laws, however land acquisition negotiations, whether public or private, are usually done with the benefit of confidentiality. If the parties and negotiations were made public, other potential sellers would unfairly benefit from this knowledge. Recommendations from the Committee must be forwarded to the Mayor and City Council for approval, the details of which must be made public when completed, thus insuring accountability.”

    In that same report, the Committee provided a list of levy expenditure priorities:

    A) Preservation of important wildlife habitat and movement corridors;

    B) Protection of riparian areas;

    C) Protection of scenic views, historic properties, and
    archaeological resources; and

    D) Enhancement of recreational opportunities.

    Notice how recreational uses came in last.

    I know, I know — the only thing worse than people who write things down, are people who keep bringing them up.

    Where public funds are involved, confidential private land purchase negotiations (and negotiations for private land exchanges) with the owners do actually benefit the public.

    But the dealings (or negotiated terms) of any purchase of land between PUBLIC entities, of publicly-owned land, carries no actual public benefit — and should not be (and I believe cannot be) held in a closed session.

    By definition, the Committee cannot act to “protect” the Boise citizen from an Idaho agency — any more than it can protect them from a County agency — by shrouding its negotiations with such an agency in secrecy. A Boise citizen is a County citizen, is a State citizen.

    The need for confidentiality doesn’t extend to protecting the public from itself.

    “Accountability” isn’t a status that’s earned when (after all the opportunity for public input has passed) you file a report with an elected body. It’s interesting to me that when The Cliffs developer was working with Ada County Development Services staff, as he prepared his application for submittal, Tony Jones and others alleged that the department’s staff was holding secret negotiations with the developer. This allegation was often repeated through the public hearing process — even though no decision regarding the application had yet been rendered.

    Now that the parcel has been acquired by a public entity (Boise City), and it appears that the city has been in private negotiations with another public agency regarding the presumably favorable transfer of ownership of that parcel, those same parties who alleged some type of conspiracy during Ada County’s open process are mysteriously quiet. The Committee’s obvious attempt to thwart a Freedom of Information Request from a member of the press is a troubling development.

    It sets a bad precedent, especially for an activity between two public agencies that should be so open, that it could have been held at an open-air table on the corner of Capital Boulevard & Main Street and live-telecast on KTVB.

  19. Blazing Saddle
    May 27, 2010, 8:52 pm


    Say what?

    Because of the ag exemption, Skyline never paid more than $300 per year on the $10 million property.

    And last year, as Skyline went broke, they didn’t pay the taxes at all.

    So the impact to other boise home owners is somewhere below $0.01 per year?

    Never mind.

  20. Former County Staffer
    May 27, 2010, 9:47 pm

    Dean, it is execrable that you should try to build yourself up by tearing others down. There is a difference between legal private negotiations, which the city and state seem to be having, and clandestine illegal negotiations like the county held during your tenure.

    Did you forget that your three commissioners were found guilty of violating the open meeting law?

    Did you forget that one of your colleagues offered Skyline a quid pro quo for “taking care of the illegal subdivision”?

    Did you forget that your department coached the cliffs, and charge the public for documents that you gave to the developer for free.?

    Did you forget that your department once paid one of your colleagues to spy on a SaveThePlateau picnic?

    Did you forget that you personally were on the receiving end of exparte communications with the developer during the hearing process?

    That, Dean, is what illegal, secret activities at the county looked like during your tenure at Ada County. How dare you, in the absence of proof, pretend that this situation and yours are somehow comparable.

  21. I doubt you will hear much from Tony Jones. This outcome is what he was after from the start with support from the Deer Hunters of Idaho. Plus he now has his “Own Private Idaho” forever. And the Borzoi can run free.

    The lack of transparency by Boise does not set a good example for other agencies. I understand the need for secrecy on the first transaction with the Johnson’s/bank, but this second sale should be the epitome of open. I don’t see a problem with the transfer as long as the like value properties that are trade are valued by a independent party.

  22. Diane Sower
    May 28, 2010, 9:20 am

    Another view on developing in foothills and other sections of the county out yonder. All the people who wind up living there cry foul against the city when their homes go up in flames, causing precious time, energy, and safety of firefighters and paramedics. Personally, I think these rich people ought to buy and build in safer zones. Now there’s a democratic vote in spite of rich people’s vote to screw others cuz they’ve got theirs.

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