Former CWI Foundation Member Attorney Of Record For Land Seller

CWI_Logo_FacebookThe College of Western Idaho provided a copy of the sales agreement between CWI and the Bob Rice family trust in response to a GUARDIAN records request.

Here is the sales Purchase Agreement-3150 W Main Street which includes a “free return” clause.

We found it interesting that a former CWI Foundation board member, Gregory Byron, is listed on the document as the attorney of record for the Rice family–sellers of 10 acres to CWI. Byron resigned in January from his foundation board position.

Coincidentally, the Thornton, Byron law office is across the street from the land in question on the corner of 30th and Main. That building is owned by “River Front Plaza, LLC, whose principal agent is Michael Fery. No other owners are listed on the state records.

The Foundation is the fund raising component of the institution and the volunteer members are a mix of community members and staff of CWI.

Lack of an appraisal prior to entering into a purchase agreement caused concern for the GUARDIAN and subsequently the general public. We find it unusual for the school to pay for a land survey, but not a professional independent appraisal to establish value. Ada County valued the property at $3.6 million, but the sales price was $8.8 million.

Since Byron was not acting as a lawyer for the CWI foundation, there is not likely any ethical violation with him knowing of a potential acquisition of land and using insider information to benefit his client, the Rice family trust.

He reportedly has told legacy media he resigned to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

All of this boils down to a gigantic public relations debacle for CWI. They are in the position of owning land at an inflated price with a public perception of bungling at best. The loss of public trust at this juncture is palpable when it comes to approval of construction bond financing to the tune of about $150,000,000.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Maybe the Rice Family Foundation could make a donation back to CWI and have a building named in their honor….to the tune of $4,000,000.

  2. Richard Evensen
    May 1, 2015, 5:42 pm

    From the Boise Guardian:
    “Property values are a moving target, but the Ada assessor has a record of hitting that target within a 96% accuracy rate, according to the Idaho Tax Commission.”
    “The Ada County Assessor is required to value land at “market value.” County records show the value set for tax purposes is right at $3.5 million. The GUARDIAN contacted Assessor Bob McQuade who double checked with an outside appraiser and his own staff. McQuade concluded the $3.5 million value is in the ball park.”
    From Boise Weely:
    “While CWI officials have been mum about how the community college came to pay $5.2 million more for the land than its assessed value, assessors have been checking their own math about the value of the property. According to Ada County Chief Deputy Assessor Tim Tallman, Assessor Bob McQuade has revisited his own assessment and confirmed its value at $3.6 million.”
    The idea that assessed values are greatly different from actual sale values is ancient. Ask any busy Realtor and you will be told that the two values are much closer than years ago and in most cases spot on.
    The actions involved in this land purchase are easily at the level of gross negligence and incompetence. I believe they will lead to legal actions for malfeasance.
    This cloud of doubt and mistrust should and likely will doom any bond effort requiring a two thirds majority for passage.

  3. Clancy, your idea is perfect. However, greed will dominate and the money will remain with the Rice family.
    This is all truly unfortunate, as the ones to be taken advantage of are the future/potential students that would go to the (cheaper by half) College of western Idaho, instead of forking over all the inflated tuition to BSU. Especially since the bulk of classes offered at CWI are in canyon county, and BSU is working to eliminate its focus on the humanities and lower division courses. Maybe, a 4 mill scholarship just might be in order. Maybe.

  4. CJ Petrovsky
    May 1, 2015, 6:21 pm

    “Debacle” may be an understatement.

    Thanks for uncovering this, Dave.

  5. Grumpy ole Guy
    May 1, 2015, 7:36 pm

    What services would/ will be offered by CWI on the new campus? Will a complete duplication of services be present? Registration & Registra? Student advising? Library collection and services? Job referral & counselling? What is the estimated costs of duplication? Will there be shuttle bus service for student and staff? Will the same faculty be teaching on both campuses? Night and weekend classes, or will one facility be empty during those hours? If voters are to be asked for approval, this voter would like to have such questions as these be answered before the election is held.

  6. Richard Evensen
    May 1, 2015, 8:01 pm

    Section five of the sales agreement allows CWI to terminate the purchase at will for 180 days.

    That needs to be done immediately.

    They can always come back later if proper due diligence justifies the current price.

  7. Dang… even when I do the new math they teach in the xxx class it’s still a $5M booboo. There must be more going on here… nobody that stupid.

    And thank you for the service you provide to the community editor!! You do what other media won’t because their lead reporters sit on the boards of the same non-profits you so often bust for gray-area activities… we might have never known.

    I just watched Ch XX news. Two real stories, about six non-profit infomercials disguised as news stories, a dozen real commercials, and at lest three interruptions by the weather man to say the same thing each time… I’m able to tvo thru it in three minutes. (I only slow down for that one smoking-hot brunette reporter!!)

    BTW: Boise City and MSM making a big push for helping the homeless. But most homeless live outside because they are the untreated mentally-ill who are too paranoid to live indoors. Get the scoop on MSM and do a reality-check informative story covering the real reasons for homelessness.

  8. Rod in SE Boise
    May 2, 2015, 10:09 am


    Back in the day about 50% of the homeless were people with untreated mental problems. I recently heard that it was down to about 25%, which surprised me. These days homelessness is more of a lack of jobs problem and less of a mental illness problem.

    EDITOR NOTE–Zip, please stay on topic. We will all be homeless if the politicos keep spending like drunken sailors…no comments about sailors please!

  9. Larry Bauer
    May 2, 2015, 10:30 am

    My support for cwi has taken a new direction! I can no longer support an institution that blatantly wastes my tax dollars in such a huge waste of dollars as this recent purchase. I would call for resignation of all people involved in this transaction, cancellation of the sale as agreed at present time and new people negotiate a proper purchase of needed land!! This is appalling and an embarrassment to this college!

  10. Grumpy ole Guy
    May 2, 2015, 11:52 pm

    Malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance all rolled into one mess.

    Tis the feasance season.

  11. I agree Larry, fire the bunch of them. I think there’s more to this than being disclosed.

  12. I think a full board of resignations is in order for their lack of fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers. They have violated a sacred trust and will never recover from this blunder.

    I will give them a big fat NO when the bond election comes around. I don’t want these people having anything to do with spending my tax dollars.

  13. Larry, what makes you think all bureaucratic institutions dont “blatantly waste your tax dollars”?

    Fire departments buying more vehicles than they need, police departments paying for military equipment they don’t need and city council buying and paying for studies and crap they don’t need.
    You pay it, they will spend it.

  14. Yawza!

    “former CWI Foundation board member, Gregory Byron, is listed on the document as the attorney of record for the Rice family–

    Byron resigned in January from his foundation board position.”

  15. What it should have said is this….
    “former CWI Foundation board member, Gregory Byron, is listed on the document as the attorney of record for the Rice family–
    Byron resigned in January from his foundation board position after he broker the insider deal and ensured his paycheck and the huge paycheck to the Rice Family so after the horrible use of funds became public he could say he resigned and could try to deny any conflict.”

  16. So if the Board of CWI admits it was a mistake, and the purchase contract has a 180 day at will pull out of the deal, when do we expect to hear from CWI they are pulling out of the mistake?

  17. Rod in SE Boise
    May 4, 2015, 12:22 pm

    Yeah, and he resigned to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. LOL

    Idaho – the ethics-free state.

  18. Rod, “Idaho” doesn’t have an exclusive arrangement for such people.

    Perhaps you would like to review the recent history of Illinois- another ethics-free state? New York? California? Georgia? Arkansas? there are 46 others too…

    Try not to paint yourself as a resident of a state with such characteristics.

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