Ullman Sits On Bench During Candidate Game

It was game night Thursday for Ada County Commission candidates, but Sharon Ullman–the only incumbent on the team–remained on the bench.

Residents in Northwest Boise held a candidate forum at River Glen Jr. High to discuss the issues surrounding the proposed Dynamis trash-to-energy project at the Ada County land fill.

Seven candidates discussed the issue while Commish Sharon Ullman refused to participate in the forum which was moderated by Dr. Jim Weatherby, a former political science prof at BSU. Ullman told the forum organizer she was “comfortable here” (in the back of the room with a laptop computer opened before her).

Weatherby, a veteran political forum moderator, told the GUARDIAN, “I have never seen anything like this. She shows up and then refused to participate.”

Of the seven who participated, all but one were opposed to the Dynamis project based on current information and urged that it should be delayed to allow more public input. Ada County, with the support of Ullman has already spent $2 million in public funds on the no-bid project.

Candidate views:
Jim Tibbs wants proof of financial security from Dynamis before proceeding.
Brad Rowen said the project needs an independent environmental inspector.
Steve Halvorson was the lone Dynamis advocate and said the firm “answered all my questions.”
John Howard said there was no “hard science verifying it would work and we shouldn’t be Guinea pigs.”
Dave Case said there was “too much secrecy” by Dynamis and the public was left out of the process. He chided Ullman for sitting out the session.
Larry Rincover declared the project to be in trouble and said the firm’s PR was a “disaster.”

Comments & Discussion

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  1. And hopefully she remains on any bench outside the County Commission. She is leaving one big mess for the new commissioners coming in.

  2. Thanks for the report, Guardian. Ms. Ullman’s aloof and wacky behavior here is yet another good reason that everyone should vote Republican in the new, “closed” primary to vote AGAINST her!

  3. Its apparent she doesn’t care about our citizens, should quit now before she does more damage. Any of the other candidates would be better, more qualified anyway.

  4. So has anyone asked the new guys if they plan to raise taxes. Or will they raise taxes before they make cuts? I think this would be a very important question.

    Trash fee increase is a tax increase too. So I’m looking for a true conservative, but don’t see any.

  5. Guardian, from where you were, could you see her screen? Maybe she was just playing Angry Birds or something.

  6. Brian Vermillion
    May 4, 2012, 5:32 am

    I wonder why she is so pro-dynamis? Like they always say: follow the money.

  7. ThomasM Howell
    May 4, 2012, 8:47 am

    To the Guardian readers: My name is Thomas M Howell and I am running as the Democratic candidate for Ada County Commissioner, District 3. I also attended and expressed my views at the Town Hall last night but was curiously omitted from the story above. My view is similar to the near unanimous opposition to the Dynamis project expressed last night. I do not support the project in its current state. The loss of credibility with the public, the amount of unanswered questions about the health risks of the emissions, ash byproduct and contaminated water produced by the project and the financial risk to the county are too unsettling to want to move forwards. I am as pro business as any candidate should be but this particular project should be dialed back at least until all the questions are addressed. I, too, think an independent engineer should be hired by the county to check on the current Dynamis claims about the project. That should be the next move the county makes. We have too many examples across the country (see what has happened in Harrisburg, PA) where taxpayers have been saddled with extra cost from projects gone wrong. We have two examples close by, in Boise county and in Meridian, that show what happens when projects taken on by the city or county were pushed through too fast without addressing the appropriate issues first. We cannot afford to let this project go that route and must step back, show the appropriate leadership to step it back and address all the concerns first.

    EDITOR NOTE–Mr. Howell, we apologize for the oversight. No slight intended on the part of the GUARDIAN and we must admit your comments were overlooked in the shuffle of quotes and production of the picture. Sorry.

  8. It’s far easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize, than to be a decision-maker and take the heat. (Heck – I myself am a fantastic armchair quarterback! Hall of Fame material!)

    I can’t help but wonder if Ms. Ullman has arrived at that same conclusion. Long before she was a commissioner, she was heavily involved as a citizen; maybe she’s decided that’s where she’d rather be. When you’re an elected official, you have a fickle boss – the voting public.

    (Until I see evidence otherwise, I’ll assume Ullman has no ulterior motives, and that she’s following a course that SHE thinks is best for her constituency. But at the same time, I’m hoping that our decision-makers will proceed VERY cautiously with taxpayer dollars, even if they’re only throwing millions around, instead of TRILLIONS like back in D.C. But that’s another subject…)

  9. @ ThomasM Howell: We should not buy what we don’t need. Do you think hiring an engineer (spending more money) to extract the county from this is needed? Have deadlines already been crossed in the existing contract? If so, what more do you need? Why spend more money to study something when you can just look at examples of similar facilities.

    As best I can figure out, this whole gasification technology idea seems to need more time to work out the differences between potential and reality. That kind of work is typically done in a lab and not at the county dump. My trash fees have gone up and I fear it is so someone can experiment on my dime.

  10. Karen Ragland
    May 4, 2012, 10:06 am

    Is an elected official just wanting to listen so unusual that “she” is looked at with jaundiced eyes? I wonder why Weatherby is inserting himself in the discussion? Personally I am opposed to the Dynamis project. Too many times in the past Boise City and Ada County has become involved in projects that have failed. “The Pit” in downtown Boise comes to mind. I would like to see the enviromental studies published.

    EDITOR NOTE–In defense of the good prof. The GUARDIAN directly asked if he had ever seen a candidate show up at a forum and not participate. Rather than insert himself or come to any conclusion, he offered the quote we posted.

  11. We need to educate ourselves better before we vote. We forget. We may have recognized the name but forgot all the negative publicity they got from the last time they held office. Oh, yes, now I remember. Last time they were in office it was all fighting, negative and did nothing good I can think of. Well, now we have more problems, lost millions and have been stuck with it for years. One bad egg can spoil the whole lot. Some thought it didn’t matter as there were two other common sense commissioners. Well as we now see, when the common sense went out the door due to medical issues we were left with someone focusing on self-serving interests that turned the ship into the mud. We need to educate ourselves, learn more about the candidates before voting. Look at the ballot, who is on there? The info is here on the Guardian and in other media, and don’t just look at what the candidate says about themselves but read all the info out there. We’ve had and have some great leaders who have done a lot of good, so look at who they endorse. Ask others, family, friends, those you can trust. Then get up and go VOTE!

    This commissioner seat needs someone like Mayor Bieter. He took over a mess and has done an excellent job. He is an honest, hard-working, caring, educated, determined individual and public servant. He came from a wonderful family and has shown he is determined to make Boise a great place to live. He had to make many tough decisions, but educated himself, hired some good people to help him and took care of the matters at hand. He’s not running for commissioner but there are some others out there that look pretty good.

    Best of luck to you and may the best person win.

  12. Educate, thanks for educatin’ me! I’m writing in Dave Bieter for commissioner!! And, we’ll all look forward to county-wide trolley service.

    (Campaign 2015 is kickin’ off REAL early!)

  13. Bikeboy, you have drunk the Koolaid if you think Sharon Ullman does what she thinks is best for the constituency. Sharon Ullman does what is best for Sharon Ullman. And she keeps pointing out that the $2 million Dynamis money was not “property tax dollars” (it was from stimulus funds), as if that is not “taxpayer” money. Everything in the coffers belongs to the taxpayers. As for showing up but not participating, that is just part of being a bit nuts. It is not endearing or cute, nor does it mean she represents the voice of the people. She was front and center handing $2 million to Lloyd Mahaffey (who it has now been reported owes $400,000 property taxes to Boise County; no wonder Dynamis could not get a performance bond!) It is unacceptable for her now to sit back during an open forum and not answer the questions the public has as to this very poor decision making she did with Fred Tilman and Rick Yzaguirre. County gave away $2 million to these clowns. I say VOTE OUT THE INCUMBENTS!!!

  14. And remember, Dynamis is only one of the many stupid and self serving things she has done in office. She is about power and control and loves to throw her weight around making many enemies along the way. It also shows by her off the wall comments about Vern that she has no compassion or class. She whines about her simple gallbladder surgery while Vern struggles with intense pain daily. She used his absense to continue her unethical practices in the Commish office. Let’s all get to the polls and VOTE this year for trustworty candidates. Maybe someone told her to sit on the bench and shut up because she can not seem to answer much needed questions.

  15. I noticed all the Case for Commissioner signs disappeared from our part of town. How did that happen??? I agree, VOTE OUT THE INCUMBENTS!!!!

  16. Guardian: What happened to the governor appointing a replacement for Vern’s position?

    EDITOR NOTE–Good question. The Repubs have to come up with three names for him and I am not sure they have done it yet.

  17. SOMEONE is running them over and taking them down. I wonder who that might be!

  18. I wish the governor could replace Sharon also.

  19. Sharon, what a poor display of leadership, you lacked the backbone to defend your position and decisions. What about the deal is so indefensible? In the safety of your own controlled blog you can defend it, yet coward in person????

  20. Governor hasn’t received a list of names for commissioner to replace Vern. Ada County Republicans haven’t selected 3 names, the next meeting is planned for May 17.

    VOTE now (early voting open on Benjamin St. behind Target) or on May 15th at your new polling place!

  21. I would like to submit the name of Rousing Sermon to the governor. All levity aside, this is a good nonpartisan race to watch on Saturday. Rousing Sermon will be the first Idaho horse to run in the Kentucky Derby (138th), according to news reports.

    Go Get ‘Em, RS!


  22. Republicans rule!

  23. Want the Truth
    May 5, 2012, 10:23 am

    Finally, people are listening and reporting on this. It’s been two years of no one willing to really look into it. The key question and key mystery is WHY did Tilman, Yzaguirre and Ullman rush to give $2 million of Ada County’s money to Mahaffey. WHY did they not hold public meetings ahead of time? Ullman has stated that their bazillion one-on-one meetings (designed I think to avoid the open meeting law) were fine if no contracts were under consideration. But obviously they WERE under consideration, as the Commissioners signed a contract one morning in a public meeting. Are we to believe none of the prior private meetings were in preparation for that contract? So again, we must ask WHAT WAS THEIR MOTIVATION? The claim that they it was a great technology and would help the taxpayers is very difficult to swallow. And Ullman, who hated the $1 a year lease at Hawks stadium and used to always complain about the prior commissioners having done it, does a $1 as year lease to a company designed to be a for profit enterprise? WHY? And where, may I ask, is the Attorney General in investigating what went on here? If he’s waiting for the County prosecutor to look into it, he’ll wait forever, as the prosecutor’s office wrote the underlying contract and was involved in this deal every step of the way and it is a clear conflict of interest to request it be investigated.

  24. Thomas M Howell
    May 5, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Sorry for the late reply to Zippo. The independent engineer would have to be looked at in terms of saving money in the long run. Because the information sharing has been less than forthcoming, we have no idea at this point whether stopping this project would lead to Dynamis suing the County. An independent engineering study could save the County in the long run if it helps deflect or prevent this. I would definitely look at the cost-benefit analysis of this suggestion but my comments above are why I think it is still a valid choice.

  25. Thomas M Howell Your getting my VOTE.

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