CCDC

Reader Question And History Lesson Worth A Look

QUESTION
Editor, could you possibly educate me (and others) a bit about Boise and its real estate swapping? In every other city in which I’ve ever lived, city government tended to focus on the day-to-day, mundane, “unsexy” aspects of municipal government — fixing the street lamps and the potholes, making sure the police department ran smoothly, running the water department, keeping the parks clean, and, yes, occasionally buying or selling a patch of land for a new school or a municipal hospital wing. Average, regular stuff.

The City of Boise seems to be deeply and obsessively involved in frenetic real estate horse-trading, to a degree rivaling the daily sales of a “ReMax” franchise. Large, complicated land swaps and deal-making to an extent I’ve never seen in other, similar-sized cities. When did Boise stop being a city government and jump headlong into the real estate game, which I thought was supposed to be the exclusive province of the private sector? A little history lesson, please, for any of us unused to living in a town that’s running a land office out its backdoor like the Oklahoma land grab. (And should we start donning gold “Century 21” blazers any time we do business at City Hall?)
Thanks, DAVID KLINGER

ANSWER
Mr. Klinger, You are spot on with your comments! It probably started out with 1970s Urban Renewal and evolved into elected officials telling each other they needed “a vision.” One group wanted a downtown mall and another did not. The big issue was women being forced to go to Salt Lake or Seattle for high end shopping.

The result was an impasse that left the vacant downtown core looking like a “war zone.” Dirk Kempthorne and Brent Coles were both younger mayors with an eye toward “running government like a business.” That created a period of executive car allowances, severance bonuses, phony business travel, credit card (P-card) abuse—all rather mundane and accepted in corporate life, but unacceptable with citizen’s money.

Bieter came in on an “ethics” platform, but he too has succumbed to the lure of having a vision and being able to build, grow, and “get things done.” Trouble is, he avoids bond elections and has spent $$$ on PR efforts and surveys to buttress his personal desires such as INCREASED DENSITY, GROWTH, A TROLLEY, F-35 JETS, KILLING ACHD, INDUSTRIAL PARK, ASSORTED ENERGY DREAMS. Citizens tend to get in his way, so he manipulates the media and stages highly managed workshop seminars and “surveys” aimed at supporting his plans.

Comments & Discussion

10 comments for “Reader Question And History Lesson Worth A Look”

  1. Dave, I have been here 51 years and seen some bad majors, but Bieter has got to be the worst, more crooked then Coles or Pretty Boy Kempthorne together. The citizens suffer under his financial mismanagement and crooked dealings because we all have to pay the $ for him to play.
    Dan

  2. Bill Lawellin
    Nov 29, 2018, 11:41 am

    This article should be placemat for every dinner eaten in the Treasure Valley.

  3. Rubbish. You may disagree with Bieter’s policies, but he is as ethical as the day is long. The land rush you claim had its beginnings in the foothill preservation initiatives that were voter approved. Urban renewal has been doing what it is suppose to do for years, under the law. You hate urban renewal, so be it. It isn’t shady and the downtown has benefitted greatly through its use. Judicial confirmation, or challenge, is the tool used to check non-voter approved indebtedness and it works. Disagree as you may, but leave the personal aspersions on the shelf.

  4. I agree with TFBoy.
    The post is a bit exaggerated as well

    Disagree if one wants to be wrong, but the proof is in the pudding as stated in the NOTE: the “vacant downtown core looking [looked] like a “war zone.”

    No one could say that today.

    Otherwise, the idea of Boise (or any city) holding real estate for speculation or trading, is a totally separate issue of whether Bieter is a moron or a genius.

    When one considers the BRA/CCDC is a quasi department of the city, it is easy to go back to 1965 when some of these arrangements started.

    For more background on that, something from our friends at BoiseWeekly:
    https://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/razed-and-confused-boises-turbulent-history-of-urban-renewal/Content?oid=1713334

  5. Mr. Lawellin you have an interesting place setting for sure!

  6. IdahoTimber
    Dec 1, 2018, 9:27 am

    I, too, have been shocked at how Boise has become a highly-engaged developer. And I know the history, having lived here 45 years, but this is an enormous expansion of whatever was done years before.

    The next big push is at the City-owned 3200 acres and 18 miles of railroad track southeast of Micron, with the first development let for a full manufacturing site.

    Who got to decide this is where our tax funds go? Who got to decide we need a whole new economic site, supported with taxpayer funds?

    Where will we put people attracted to this for jobs? There is no affordable housing. There is no transit. Where will we even find employees for those jobs? We and almost every other locale in the Country is well within full employment.

  7. You Must Spend
    Dec 1, 2018, 1:19 pm

    One of the spending lessons that Bieter and other elected officials have learned is that you MUST spend your cash and ALWAYS have a next project to spend more money on. This is where having big money developers in your pocket is helpful too.

    This lesson has long been the motto of St Luke’s for example. Mayor “Spend & Spend” Bieter have learned their lessons well. Have you ever wondered why St Luke’s Health System builds all these new buildings? They do this so (spend the cash it has on buildings and infrastructure) so the cash in hand will will not show up on their P&L. If it did and they did not spend it then people would ask serious questions.

    If you look at the detailed financial statements from St Luke’s you can see they are ending each year with between $170 and 360 MILLION every year. You cannot let piles of cash like that show up on your financials —– so you spend it on buildings and equipment

    Mayor Beiter has more money to spend this year than he has ever had. So learning from St Luke’s he needs massive projects to build and “hide the money”.

  8. Just cause something is ethical or legal doesn’t always make it right. Campaigning to make Boise the most livable city in the country while soliciting the F 35 to Gowen Field? Or spending millions for a downtown street car while endorsing GBAD candidate because we have a walk able downtown?
    In the fall of 2017 Dave Bieter told Boiseans he wanted to be TRANSPARENT in regards to the snafu with the Foothills bond! Knowing that the Boise Fire Bond was not going to be accomplished with NO INCREASE IN TAXES? Cost went from $17 million to $34 million?
    Property owners, in the treasure valley, should not allow elected public servants to blame growth for mismanagement on their part!

    The actions of Boise’s elected public servants seem to favor the area of our downtown core NOT THE WHOLE OF THE CITY. Just cause something is legal doesn’t make it right.
    I like to compare the BRA/CCDC OF 2018 to the LANDLINE.

  9. Yossarian_22
    Dec 2, 2018, 3:04 pm

    If you want to see where this all could be headed, read about Agenda 21 and “Smart” and “Strong” cities. Boise is not yet a subscribing member to this craze, but the language of city council and the mayor’s office lead me to believe that they are social engineering, not just trying provide “improvements.”

    California mayors and councils are already embracing and publicly endorsing these agendas, and admit they are doing social engineering. They feel that the average person needs convincing that more and more shaping and vision is paramount.

    Look how these “improvements” helped Paradise CA. When they choked down the main arteries in and out of town, the evacuation process was impossible and people died in their cars trying to escape. No place to run. There are downsides to all these special projects.

  10. @TF Boy. If they are all so ethical then why doesn’t CCDC disclose their financials on an annual basis, detailing where the UR money is spent, and what percentage is used for projects and administration. Any question of that is met with smoke in mirrors responses, or a flat-out “no we do not give that information out.” How is it that these publicly funded corporations can get away with lack of disclosure. I say that the legislature needs to act on that immediately, among several other muddy practices that are used by the cities and UR agencies.

    As far as being ethical, I don’t know how Bieter can wear two hats mayor and CCDC board member without a question of ethical behavior. In fact the point that he the Mayor appoints board members which are confirmed by the city council is ripe with ethical concerns. One has to look no further than to see who sits on CCDC’s board to see what their motivations are: https://ccdcboise.com/the-agency/board-of-commissioners/.

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