More On Supreme’s Cottage Lease Decision

A long history of protecting old Idaho families and ranchers from having to make competitive bids for state leases has been threatened by the recent Supreme Court decision over cottage leases on state land.

The Idaho Land Board–comprised of statewide elected officers–administers state land through the Idaho Dept. of Lands as well as the endowment funds which earn money mostly for education.

When the GUARDIAN raised the moral and ethical issue of the state competing with private enterprise with the purchase of Affordable Storage, they quickly claimed a “constitutional mandate” to get the best return on the investment. Hard to argue that logic.

The Idaho Supreme Court recently ruled against the board when Attorney General Lawrence Wasden sued his colleagues over the issue of competitive bidding for cottage leases on state land. Good for Wasden. He stayed with his principles.

It seems there are other situations that are ripe for change or challenge when it comes to getting the most bang for the buck.

In spite of several Attorney General’s opinions and guidelines as well as Supreme Court decisions, the Land Board signed a lease with 10 Beer Brew Pub LLC which was negotiated and not held at auction as required by the Idaho Constitution. They were able to do that because the Idaho Legislature passed several laws that appear on the face to be unconstitutional in light of the recent decision.

Those laws are:
I.C. 58-310 A, Cottage sites and Homesites not subject to conflict auctions This was declared unconstitutional by the Supremes.
I.C. 58-310 B, Grazing land not subject to conflict auctions
I.C. 58-307 (11), Commercial leases not subject to conflict auctions

The Idaho Supreme Court in the 2012 opinion No.104 stated plainly: “The language of Article IX sec. 8, unambiguously requires that any disposal of endowment land must be at public auction.” Also, “Disposal, as this Court has indicated…, means any lease or sale.” The Court continues, “Thus, Article IX sec. 8 requires public auctions for leases of endowment lands.”

UPDATE 7/9/12
Attorney General spokesman Bob Cooper offered this statement in response to a GUARDIAN request for comment:
“In the most recent decision, the Idaho Supreme Court held that the statute exempting cottage sites from the public auction requirement is
unconstitutional. The Court reached the same conclusion regarding grazing leases in the Idaho Watersheds Project (III) case in 1999. Our
office is now reviewing the cottage site decision in order to advise the Land Board of what is necessary to comply with the opinion.”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Nepotism is not tolerated in Idaho unless you are a friend or a realtive.

  2. What was the vote on the lease with the brew pub? Or was it done administratively?

    I have long been dismayed by the Land Board getting into things that over-complicate, meander around, and outright violate their basic, constitutional duty. Of course, much of this blame could be assigned to the Legislature for sticking its nose in the Land Board’s business.

  3. Grumpy ole guy
    Jul 5, 2012, 7:39 pm

    It was my understanding that the issue of maximum benefit (for schools) was on the ENDOWED lands. How is acquiring land which was not endowed (given by the Feds for States’ school use) the same thing as managing the older, specific use. Seems to my non-legally training mind that the lands acquired would be a separate category, and in grave risk of being competition with private (or even public) businesses.

    EDITOR NOTE–The company line is sorta like this: “We can’t make any money off timber sales, so we sell that land and acquire property in the city which has a higher return–just like the constitution mandates.”

  4. Looks like local politicos will need to find a new place for the summer cabin

  5. how many laws has the legislature passed that are unconstitutional?
    And how long and how much will it cost to sort this all out. The corruption is rampanr and will only get worse when the new commers start voting themselves into office… (see the Sharon Ullman fiascio)

  6. I doubt a lease for a space within an IDL comericial building needs to go to auction. Especially when there are multiple units in the building. An auction would only increase the cost of leasing the space, if only one potential tenant shows up. Should there be auctions to lease the individual storage units too?

    What should be looked at is the bid process for who manages the Comercial Lease program. Currently Thorton,Oliver and Keller manages 4 IDL building downtown. Are they exclusive or can other comericial realestate companies bid to manage?

  7. Here is a nice write-up about who the leasees actually are and the stability that is needed.

  8. Good article. I still have a very hard time feeling sorry for people who built or fixed up residential homes/cabins on leased land. I mean, seriously, I would never build my home or a second home (unless it had wheels and a hitch) on land I lease. That is nuts.

  9. Does this new Supreme decision also include the sweetheart deals given to the farmer/ranchers/timber/miners?

    EDITOR NOTE–That apparently remains to be seen. We were told the rancher issue was resolved previously by the Supremes.

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