Boise Attempts “Valentine Day Massacre” On ACHD, Shoots Mayor, Council In Foot

A bungled attempt by Boise City to ambush the Ada County Highway District’s relationship with the Idaho Legislature on February 14 has ignited a unified firestorm of disgust and outrage from the mayors of Meridian, Kuna, Star and Eagle, the Ada County Commishes, and the ACHD board.

The sleazy attempt by those in the office of Boise’s mayor rivals the loss of integrity and reputation Boise City government suffered 10 years ago when former Mayor Brent Coles and his staff were eventually jailed for their misdeeds.

Based on documents obtained by the GUARDIAN, ACHD officials scheduled a “dog and pony show” for legislators at their Garden City headquarters on Valentine Day.

At the Capitol while boarding Commuter Vans to ferry the members of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, a member of Bieter’s staff handed each member a damning anonymous flyer which alleged the relationship between the ACHD and cities of Ada County were “strained at best.” It also included things like, “Is it true ACHD spends more on communications and public relations than ITD?” ( Editor note: NO. Not true)

The poison Valentine also asked rhetorical questions obviously aimed at ambushing any communication ACHD had with their political guests that day. While the flyer was presented by a member of Mayor Bieter’s staff, there was nothing to indicate it came from the city or had the blessing of the city council.

ACHD President Sara Baker (a former Boise City Councilor) wrote to the Transportation Committee members denying most of the claims which she termed, “a clumsy attempt to taint our reputation.”

Attached to the letter were letters of support from the Ada Commishes and most of the mayors of Ada County Cities.

STAR Mayor Nate Mitchell termed the Boise flyer a “hit piece,” and told legislators, “Mayor Dave Bieter continues to blatantly misrepresent the political reality between Star, the other cities of Ada County and the ACHD.”

MERIDIAN Mayor Tammy de Weerd in a letter to ACHD’s Baker said of the Boise flyer, “This does not accurately reflect the positive working relationship the City of Meridian has with ACHD.”

KUNA Mayor Greg Nelson was, “Disturbed with the mis-statements in the document and in the manner by which this “opinion piece” was distributed and it does not reflect the relationship the City of Kuna has with ACHD nor does it represent (Kuna) City’s views.”

ADA COUNTY Commishes termed the relationship with ACHD as one of “cooperation, not confrontation.” They added, “We think that perhaps the Board of Ada County Commissioners is in a better position to speak to the status of that relationship than the (flyer authors).”

In an e-mail to Boise City Councilor Maryanne Jordan, ACHD President Baker wrote, “I reported our conversation and your apology to my colleagues at ACHD.

“Although your personal apology is very important, due to the egregious accusations and falsehoods in the flyer, it is felt this is not enough.”

Baker went on to explain the damage she claimed the Boise action did to the interest of highway districts statewide. She also termed the flyer an “anonymous hit job.”

Baker also scolded Jordan saying, “Quite frankly Maryanne, you should be embarrassed that this thing was developed in your shop and that it had no attribution of its origin. Perhaps because it was so egregious is the reason it had no attribution. If any one of ACHD’s staff members had done this on my watch, I would fire them in a New York minute.”

She called on Jordan and the city to make a formal apology to the House and Senate Transportation Committees.

It will be interesting to see how Bieter’s efforts are received to use ACHD streets for his “Trolley Folly,” let alone any chance at getting a local option tax passed by the legislature.




To: ‘Maryanne Jordan’; ‘[email protected]
Subject: The Discussion Topics flyer


I reported our conversation and your apology to my colleagues at ACHD.

Although your personal apology is very important, due to the egregious accusations and falsehoods in the flyer, it is felt this is not enough. Let me explain.

The staff agonized over that presentation, spending many hours on refining it down to present transportation concerns and issues for not only Ada County, but Highway Districts throughout the state in a light that might be beneficial to increased funding for transportation. Because of this flyer, it is unlikely that can be achieved at least in this legislative session and perhaps next. Stuart Davis, the director of the Idaho Association of Highway Districts was at the joint committee meeting and was horrified by the flyer, particularly since two legislative committee members are also members of highway districts, one in Caldwell and one in Filer. Stuart had input into the presentation and was justifiably concerned. In addition, ITD, who we consulted with very closely on this presentation (as we do in many efforts), was also in attendance at the joint meeting.

It wasn’t just the multiple points of misinformation contained in the flyer, it was the fact that it was in effect an anonymous hit job. As I mentioned to you, Boise is the only City that has a strained relationship with ACHD. For this flyer to say all cities and the county had a strained relationship was not even close to being true. Ada County has a former ACHD Commissioner on its Commission. How could anyone at Boise think our relationship with them is strained.

Other falsehoods include 1c. The ULI never said the cities should jointly govern ACHD but rather to cooperate more. Based on input from our CICAC, made up of city representatives, our Five year work plan vetted by each City, our CIP also vetted by each City, there has been a marked increase in cooperation since 2007 and particularly since two years ago. I could go on and on with examples, but I will give you just one – 30th St. ACHD pulled back on the design timeline to allow Boise to provide increased input and a different direction, which ACHD followed. Then ACHD accelerated the funding for the project, even with an uncertain revenue picture. How we could have gone from the uplifting and cooperative groundbreaking for 30th St to this flyer is beyond me and is very disheartening.

ACHD does not do land use planning, particularly because over the years cities have said don’t do land use planning. However, in each area plan, like the NW Foothills Study, the State St TTOP, the Kuna Downtown Plan, etc, land use and transit are always taken into account.

The impact fee examples are without attribution. How are we to know if these are accurate or not? They could have been completely made up. Recently, ACHD was accused of limiting development in downtown Boise because of high impact fees. The truth turned out to be that 35 businesses were started in DT Boise and of those, 31 paid NO impact fees, at least to ACHD.

Your assertion that ACHD spends $15.8 million on Administration is baffling. How did you get this figure? Where did you get this figure? No one from ACHD recalls anyone from Boise City calling and asking for this kind of information. Apparently, whoever put this flyer together made it up from whole cloth.

Quite frankly Maryanne, you should be embarrassed that this thing was developed in your shop and that it had no attribution of its origin. Perhaps because it was so egregious is the reason it had no attribution. If any one of ACHD’s staff members had done this on my watch, I would fire them in a New York minute.

As I said, the members of ACHD are very upset by Boise’s actions. All the good work that has been accomplished in moving our relationship forward is in imminent threat of collapsing.

In order to salvage what we can from this episode and move to put it behind us, I recommend that you do the following. You and/or the Mayor need to send a formal letter to the Senate Transportation Committee (each member), to the House Transportation Committee (each member) and to the ACHD Commission indicating that you all were wrong to send this basically anonymous flyer, that it contained numerous misstatements of fact and that you apologize. And I recommend that it be done posthaste. Only a written letter can alleviate the anger this has caused on the Commission and set the record straight with the Legislative Committees.

I had such great hopes for the coming year, that Boise and ACHD could work together to move this community forward. I still believe that can be done, but we need to put this unfortunate event behind us. And from what I hear from the others at ACHD, only a letter containing the information listed in the above paragraph can get us to that point.



Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Weak moral character.

    My Commie-Radar is always alarming near Boise cityhall.

  2. Now talk to us about these stupid impact fees.

  3. Grumpy ole guy
    Feb 23, 2013, 2:38 am

    I always wonder what motivates one tax supported group to take aim at another tax supported operation. That this instance involves doings so with yet a third operation which is tax supported seems very clumsy, amateurish and churlish.
    I think that Commission Baker’s call for an apology made public is the very, very least thing merited by this.

    What a buncha chumps the City Council looks, suppose they asked Sharon Ulmann for her advice on this?

  4. Rod in SE Boise
    Feb 23, 2013, 8:29 am

    If the Mayor & City Council of Boise object to the existence of the ACHD, they should say so, and approach the legislature directly to get that changed. If they object to some of the decisions made by the ACHD, they should present their desires to the ACHD and try to get their differences resolved.

    Zippo’s commie-radar isn’t working right. Boise city hall is pro-business to the max.

  5. Would Boise be happier with ACHD if they would buy Mayor Bieter the toy train or streetcar he desires? He wants something that he is not getting and is willing to destroy a forty year success to further his ambitions.

  6. Boise City should look up the defintion of “DUMB” and “STUPID”.
    I don’t think anybody can help this disfunctional group. Voters need to educate themselves and replace them all.

  7. Bieter should resign. And the council with him! The sooner we get rid of this bunch, the better. We need local government to focus on running our city efficiently, not stupid political stunts.

  8. They are all a bunch of crooks. The roads in Ada County are miserable at best. Chip-sealing is the only answer I have seen on any road in the county. And now potholes again abound after the latest snows.
    This isn’t the kind of mayor I would have been.

  9. Y’all should have voted for David Hall (me) that is all I can really say.
    Better luck next time I guess.

  10. If I didnt know better I would think there was some personal animosity between the guardian and Boise City Govt.

  11. Has anyone gotten feedback from the legislative members as to how offended they must feel that Boise City sent a flunky down with a flyer…as if they couldn’t formulate their own “Discussion Points”. Nice work Team Dave – gotta give them credit for treating everyone with equal disdain.

  12. Eleven comments and not one of you asks where’s the evidence that this came from Bieter’s staff? Of from anyone at city hall?

    And Sara Baker? The one who demanded the Curtis Extension be one lane each direction, the one who often bashed ACHD when she was with Boise City? In fact her very election campaign was based on her hatred of ACHD for widening Ustick.

    Sara Baker who proudly patted her own back by claiming the 30th Street Extension had been moved up a year to 2013 instead of the truth. The truth that the 30th St Extension has been delayed numerous time since first on the Five-Year Work Plan in the late 90s.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Baker herself is the source of that planted document.

    EDITOR NOTE–We don’t want to carry water for ANY politico, but your allusion to Baker “planting” the document is out of line. It was distributed by Ross Borden of Bieter’s staff. Councilor Jordan apologized personally to Baker. Read the e-mail we obtained. Whatever Baker’s past sins, she didn’t fake the letter and your hinting that she did is not unlike the letter itself. You too owe Baker an apology.

  13. All in all I think ACHD does a good job. We should apply the same model to police and fire. Countywide…shut down the city entities completely.

  14. Wow erico49… do you work for Gary Raney? Seems that is exactly what he demanded from the city some months back. He is attempting to consolidate his power. He already has a strangle hold on Boise FD’s communication system, he rail roaded his way into the probation business, he charges Star, Kuna, & Eagle for policing the towns and the list I’m sure goes on.
    Be careful what you wish for, creating an empire might look like a good idea in the beginning but history has shown time and time again that absolute power corrupts absolutely and putting Raney at the forefront would be a HUGE mistake.

  15. Did you know that the City’s website has names, bios, and job descriptions?

    Considering how much our leaders hate nameless speculation and rebel rousing; I see a big bus coming and wonder who will be tossed under it?

    PS: If you give a complaint to the Mayors office which they don’t like, someone will ring your phone at 1:00 am. Which confirms the points made were on target and of great concern. 😉

    (A much better internet connection at my away place this year! Yes!)

  16. Erico49 is on to something to which I agree. Start with the library districts, my Meridian cards works in Boise, Star, Eagle & Kuna.

  17. ACHD is the one buracracy that does a really decent job of what they are charged to do.

    I live in Canyon County and hope someday we will have a consolidated highway district. It is nutty and costly to taxpayers for all the duplication and petty infighting that goes on, not to mention how little gets done in a lot of the wrong places. A single unified highway district would be great if only it would happen.

  18. I like Ross, but this is weird. It takes something to make ACHD look like the good guy, but the City of Boise did it. There is no tactical or strategic advantage to be gained by this kind of thing. Whoever made the decision to do it does not understand politics or leverage or anything useful in these dynamics. It’s a fail, and it’s probably going to cost something.

  19. I apologize to Ms. Baker for insinuating she may have been the source of the “poison valentine.” And I’ll add that my opinion is that ACHD works remarkably well given their mission. It’s not perfect, it’s a bureaucracy and it’s subject to numerous legal constraints which some may forget or be unaware of.

    However, I still see no direct evidence to link anyone to the “poison valentine” except for someone who handed out flyers. I do not know nor have ever heard of Ross Borden, so the question remains, how did his name come up? That name is not on the “poison valentine” itself nor is it mentioned in the email from Baker to Jordan. Did someone eyewitness the distribution of the flyers and simultaneously recognize the guy?

    I don’t even get it. ACHD did bend over to Boise City will on the 30th St Extension. For 5 years. I would like to point out that the 30th Extension was on the Five Year Work Plan twice and deleted twice before the 2007 Charette process even began. I wonder, I wonder if somebody big is miffed about the 30th Extension. If I’m not mistaken there is an eminent domain case pending. Look it up. Boise City Ada County Housing Authority.

    It would be really interesting to see who the ultimate source of the “poison valentine” is, but it’s hard to believe this came directly from Bieter’s office. Even if it did, what’s the motive?

    Finally, if I recall correctly, ACHD’s existence went to a vote about 10 years ago. The public endorsed the idea of a county-wide highway district a good 30 years after its creation by the voting public.

    Summary, just because there is in-fighting does not mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water.

    BTW, thanks for reporting on this, I haven’t seen any other media outlet mention it.

  20. Boise cynic: try reading, you will learn something. Boise Council Pres and Mayor both admitted they were behind the “anonymous” flyer. You must work for the Mayor

  21. Tom..doesn’t have to be Rainey.. or even an elected sheriff. Maybe we hire Masterson. That’s all on the table. It just seems like a lot of duplication. City residents pay for the Sheriff but get zip for their money.

  22. I have read both of those 3 times, I don’t see it.

    You know what, the better online sources and forums such as wikipedia and reddit and SSP have means of linking directly back to passages in question.

  23. Rod in SE Boise
    Feb 25, 2013, 12:16 pm

    What evidence is there that the Boise animosity to the ACHD is related to trains and trolleys? And if not that, then what is causing this?

  24. You know what cynic, instead of being a smart aleck, how about quoting and then using a description such as “mid way down” or 4th paragraph.

  25. The Speckled Hen
    Feb 25, 2013, 12:25 pm

    The comment that I find most entertaining is Boise City asserting that THEY do land use planning. They may plan for land use they fall flat on their face when it comes to land use implementation.

    Look at the Whole Foods plot. Here a chain was allowed to plop down a typical suburban strip mall store design, filled with parking spaces, in a downtown area. What is walkable about that? Why would someone take the bus when they have to walk across a sea of parking to get to the front door? That’s why ACHD responds the way they do–Boise and the other cities implement only car-oriented development. Walgreens, WinCo, Chick-Fil-A, Whole Foods–just a taste of Meridian in downtown Boise (CCDC’s new slogan?).

  26. Yes, bad for the city, lack of professionalism, dumb move by the mayor and his associates……but……ACHD’s impact fees are excessive, I believe the examples and had a similar expereince of my own. I was opening up a restaraunt in downtown boise, in a space previsouly occupied by a restaraunt, and was told to cough up $20K for ACHD impact fees. My whole business development budget was $100K, ACHD impact fees were 20% of my total budget, total killer, I walked away.

    ACHD’s response disputes the dollar value reported for their administration, but they don’t tell us what they do spend on adminstration and how that figure coresponds to ITD or other benchmark.

    ACHD’s response attacks the city’s position but fails on most points to effectively counter the argument.

    Again stupid of the city, but ACHD could have countered with more facts, not general statements on how the City can not prove their points.

  27. REMINDER- it was not along ago ACHD Commissioner openly slammed Mayor Bieter for his pay raise.

    Instead of a “you’re wrong” letter from Cmr. Baker I would have like to see the answers to the questions.

    Communications_ YES ACHD has more people in their communications department RELATIVELY than does ITD. ITD District 3 has 1 Public Information Officer. District 3 covers SW Idaho.
    ACHD recently had SEVEN employees in their communications department. ITD for the WHOLE STATE has 12.
    Break out the budget dollars and it’s obvious ACHD spends too much in trying to ‘improve their image’. Sounds a lot like Boise Council hiring contractors to sell their message.

  28. ACHD – for anyone cheering for ACHD’s efforts, there are many places to look around to see their efforts are incomplete and inefficient.
    Walgreen’s/Whole Foods access & regress being the newest one.

    These yellow sidewalk pads all around town– How much money was that project? In many parts of town it makes absolutely no sense.

    Granted the road business is a tough job – but between the City/ACHD planning cluster, the wasted money, the litigation tendency, the inconsistent treatment of applications, the lack of published policies, and the nonsense by ACHD- I think Boise City has good points in their ‘flyer’. Baker’s response and her letter proves many of the points against ACHD. It took her a week to the one page letter out.

    Why is ACHD even hauling these people to the ACHD office? The Capitol has plenty of space to make a presentation to the committee – it just has some real crappy roads surrounding it, like State Street for example.

  29. Eastern, you obviously don’t know much about ACHD. The communications dept goes far beyond communications. That dept handles notices to public required by law. Also extensive public out reach, including open houses, to gather the public’s input on projects, how the public wants Valley to function and look and the People’s PRIORITIES. All that information goes to the commissioners for deliberation on decisions.
    ITD does almost no public outreach – just does what the board wants without asking public’s opinion.

  30. Hey Eastern, the Whole Foods accesses are onto State highways. That’s ITD’s jurisdiction, not ACHD’s.
    The yellow sidewalk”pads” on sidewalk ramps are required by the Americans With Disabilities Act so if you don’t like these, talk to your federal lawmakers.

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