Ullman, Dynamis Remain Issues For Ada Race

The following is a guest opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the GUARDIAN. We offer all candidates and readers a chance to respond via the comments section of this post or with a guest opinion.


On the ballot once again, Sharon Ullman must possess a wicked sense of irony in positioning herself as a fiscal conservative, just weeks after the Ada County Commission cleaned up the remaining fallout from Ullman’s Folly—the Dynamis debacle that cost taxpayers $4.6 million. The people of Ada County were left holding the bag, wondering how the half-baked scheme ever got approved and why it found a champion and cheerleader in then-commissioner Ullman.

To recap this sordid tale of wasteful spending, fraud, and deception, let’s start at the beginning. At the urging of Ullman, who gave numerous assurances as to the legality, propriety, and built-in safeguards of the deal, Ada County entered into a contract with Dynamis Energy, fronting the start-up company $2 million to design a plant that would turn trash into electricity by burning it at the county landfill.

According to an Idaho Statesman story (Sept. 30, 2012), more than half of the $2 million went to personnel, including engineers who were paid more than $350 per hour, outrageous rates by any standard and more so for a public project. Under-capitalized and ill-equipped to do what it was promising, Dynamis required that the county buy their high-end Apple computers, in addition to charging an extra 10% for “overhead and profit.” That’s like hiring a plumber and finding out that in addition to standard labor charges, you’ll be charged for the wrench and all other tools, and then an extra gratuity for good measure.

By late 2012, following delays and complications, public opposition was mounting and environmental and contractual concerns were surfacing. Ada County, and in particular recently appointed Commissioner Dave Case, began looking for ways to exit this ill-conceived scheme. It wasn’t until Ullman was voted out of office that Case and newly elected Commissioner Jim Tibbs moved to kill the deal in February 2013, even though it meant cutting their losses and foregoing the county’s right to recoup damages.

Adding insult to injury, the episode cost taxpayers another $2.2 million, when the County was forced to settle with Fortistar, a company that for years had been successfully reclaiming landfill methane gas, which it converts to electricity. Fortistar sued the county when the trash was promised to both Dynamis and Fortistar. The $30 million tort claim was mediated, with the current commission having to settle, incurring nearly half a million dollars in legal fees.

Of course, there’s much more to the story: alleged closed-door meetings, public input thwarted, county employees resigning over their disgust for the way it was all handed. But here’s what voters need to remember: Ullman’s Folly took $4.6 million away from hardworking taxpayers—$2 million to Dynamis, $2.2 million to Fortistar, and another $450,000 in legal fees.

Sharon Ullman is no fiscal conservative and has proven that she is ill-suited to any office, much less the one she brought disgrace to with her unyielding promotion of this ridiculous and costly fiasco. Dave Case is a thoughtful and earnest steward of the public’s money and deserves to be reelected.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Brian Vermilion
    May 7, 2016, 6:35 pm

    She has a lot of audacity to even think about running for any public office ever again. But then again, most people have short memories and thus politicians continue to molest the taxpayer.

  2. Well said, Karen!

  3. chicago sam
    May 8, 2016, 7:56 am

    Sharon has a history of getting what she wants. Dynamis contract was still in effect when she left office but she married one of the Dynamis engineers and built a new house while she was in office, but molesting taxpayers, that isn’t a crime is it?

  4. I thought that the campaign signs along the road were misprinted; shouldn’t they have a question mark after “Sharon Ullman”?

  5. People are stupid
    May 8, 2016, 10:36 am

    It was easy money given to her by stupid people, so naturally she’s coming back for more. Ada county is mostly stupid people. Few roam beyond the local Jackson’s, few change out of PJs to leave the rental house. Don’t be surprised if she pulls this off.

    It’s kinda like the stupid in the neighborhood who leaves the doors unlocked/open and then acts surprised when he is targeted repeatedly.

    Local media is not “on our side” or “watching out for you” on this one either. Not one story about SU at the helm when the dynamo imploded. Local media is rooting for Hillary too. It would seem any ugly old bag in a pantsuit is preferred by them to any man.

  6. Thank you BG for the 20/20 hindsight in the Dynamis debacle.

    Sharon Ullman gave not a single thought to adding more gunk to the already polluted valley air quality we have during winter inversions and the outright smog we have during the summer months.

    The money wasted on this project was political hubris from the getgo.

  7. You all need to check your facts. Sharon’s husband is not a Dynamis engineer. He is an Engineer and a smart one, at that. None of you know the facts BUT BLATANTLY spread LIES. SHAME ON YOU ALL!

  8. Treasurer McIntyre:

    Well, then, let’s have the “facts” as you know them, please.

    EDITOR NOTE– Please read the statement by Mr. Coones. Seems like that should answer your questions.

  9. Joseph G. Coones
    May 9, 2016, 6:47 pm

    My name is Joe Coones, and I am married to Sharon Ullman. There have been some questions about my work history that I’d like to address.

    I graduated with my M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1994. My investigation focused on sub-bituminous coal pyrolysis and coke plant quality optimization.

    After graduation, I worked for a now defunct clean coal project in Gillette Wyoming known as Encoal, which was a partnership between Zeigler coal holding company in Fairview Heights IL, and SGI International from La Jolla CA. This work focused again on sub-bituminous coal devolatilization, char oxidation, and chemical refining of low temperature coal tar.

    Since leaving Encoal in 1997, I have worked for Micron Technology and Micron’s partially owned subsidiary IM Flash Technology.

    I do know a significant pyrolysis background, but I’ve never done a single minute of work for Dymanis, nor have I ever received a cent from them. Sharon and I met several months after the project was already underway.

    Vicky is right, and silly rumors are just silly.

  10. chicago sam
    May 9, 2016, 9:31 pm

    Looks like I owe Mr. Coones and Ms. Ullman an apology. I regret the misinformation

  11. All well and good Mr. Coones. That still doesn’t explain the Dynamis diva’s sole reliance on your surmise as her quoted outside technical analyst that the incineration/thermal oxidation process “should work.”

    Where was the detailed technical analysis by outside sources as to viability; the exam of the financials of an iffy new company headed by a friend of Botch who failed Garden Valley taxpayers; and the public comments re: zoning changes, hazardous emissions, double downs on plant capacity, fuel sources, contract length, and sketchy proof of concept from only one single-stage chambered incinerator that once blew up?

  12. Why does Yzzaguire get a pass on this. He was re-elected after the fiasco.

  13. Know better
    May 12, 2016, 4:43 pm

    Joseph Coone was a consultant for Dynamis and one that his now wife Sharon Ullman cited in her arguments in Hidden Springs about how the project was vetted by a Dynamis engineer – Joe Coones.

    She named you. You had just started dating. Don’t
    Muddy the waters with your lies.

    Liars and receivers are a dime a dozen. Don’t fall prey to Sharon’s lies again.

    Vote for Case. He fixed all of Sharon’s lies and made the county a happy place to work.

    As for Vicky!!! Spiteful and vindictive. Sharon rules fear in the county offices. If there was a wicked witch she certainly fit the bill.

    Don’t get fooled. Fool
    Me one once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.

    And Vicky- go away. Your time is also done.

  14. Know better
    May 12, 2016, 4:49 pm

    Here is a link to lying Sharon about Joe on her own blog site.

    I happen to know a man….

    Do you like lies? Her boyfriend was her expert and now he is her husband. He went with her and she was upset that Hidden Springs wouldn’t let him speak.


  15. Know better
    May 12, 2016, 4:49 pm

    Chicago Sam owes no one an apology.

  16. TS Samualson
    May 12, 2016, 6:21 pm

    I kind of figured there was something wrong when Mr Coones talked about working on a “…clean coal project…”, because if there are two words that should never be spoken in the same sentence it is “clean” and “coal”. The whole concept was a PR cover for the dirty coal industry, like Exxon Mobile ads showing butterflies and assuring the viewers how they were responsible environmental stewards. Anything to do with coal will never be “clean”, and everyone in the energy industry knows it.

  17. Just Be Happy
    May 12, 2016, 10:17 pm

    A lie is only a lie if the liar says it is… Hillary said this so it must be right. Or maybe it was Nixon?!?

  18. Have you heard her radio spots? If you listen closely, you will her say (not in so many words) that all three members of the Board of County Commissioners (Ada) are “bought and paid for.” This sort of looks like a promise that if elected she would work to restore the hate and discontent that has existed from time to time with various combinations of commissioners. Yep, that’s what we want.

  19. It’s working for Donald Trump, & Ted Cruz, well, not so much….

  20. People are stupid
    May 20, 2016, 6:58 pm

    Is she gone yet?

    45/55% is completely stupid… is that enough to cause her to linger. I was hopping for a much stronger wind to clear the air.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: