City Government

City Plans To “Sell” Sustain able Energy

Boise City Council approved 10 firms to work at the behest of the mayor on undisclosed ” “miscellaneous on-call climate, energy and sustainability services.”

The $150,000 amount is pretty much an open ended allotment for the city while it pursues its goal of being 100% renewable-energy powered by 2035.

The resolution giving the mayor authority to spend the money includes deals with an ad agency and a public relations firm. Each of the 10 firms approved in the proposal process will work “as needed.” They all filed “qualifications” as part of the bid process.

This is yet another vague item stashed away in the council consent agenda with little or no public discussion, giving spending authority to the mayor. The IDAHO PRESS lists the firms awarded contracts.

NOTE: THE KATIE FITE COMMENT IS OF PARTICULAR INTEREST.

Comments & Discussion

17 comments for “City Plans To “Sell” Sustain able Energy”

  1. I’m concerned about how this $150,000 may be used to manipulate public opinion through generating propaganda to try to get blind support for whatever the City wants to do. My concerns have nothing to do with desirability of the City acting in ways that support environmental sustainability (FYI – I think the city proposal at present is timid and weak – but that’s neither here nor there). But I sure want to know up-front what specific aspects of the energy/sustainability the City will be spending this money on. AND I strongly oppose spending this money on any efforts to “rig” media and public forums to hype the City’s agenda.

    The City has the Bully Pulpit. They can send out Press releases and get media coverage for their point of view/agendas. No need to pay a consultant to do that. Some of the contracts that may be issued could very foreseeably be similar to the City’s Strategies 360 contracts that basically write cookie cutter Op-Eds/LTEs etc. that then get published without the public knowing a paid consultant wrote them under contract to the City.

    This is a concern because at least one of the Contractor proposals basically spell out how they did this on other projects for other clients. For example:

    “Atlas Strategic Communications has partnered with the Boise Library Foundation to promote the need for a new Main Library for the City of Boise and activate the community on this key project.
    To this, evidently Atlas generated “EarnedMediaCampaign:Editorialplacementandtraditionalmediapitchinghas helped highlight and simplify the facts and position the project positively for the public. Atlas facilitated the development of editorials in collaboration with the Boise Library Foundation to highlight the need for a new Main Library campus”.

    THEN here is some of what the proposal says about the Horse Racing Initiative:

    “Horse Racing:

    Our media plan strategically targeted Idaho traditional and social media outlets to ensure our messages resonated with the voting public and brought voters in opposition to Prop 1 out on election day.

    Message testing in conjunction with frequent polling helped ensure the effectiveness of our messages prior to deployment. Traditional earned media engagement included select statewide editorial boards, radio talk shows, and television in key markets. During the statewide editorial tour, Atlas Strategic Communications met with the editorial staff of all major Idaho print publications to present the challenges posed by Prop 1. Following this engagement, the editorial boards across the state unanimously printed op-eds and similar articles in opposition of the proposition. Atlas Strategic Communications placed dozens of op-ed and articles in Idaho in connection with the opposition of Prop 1. Linked below are the op-eds and additional articles Atlas Strategic Communications earned as part of media coverage against Prop 1”.

    Beware. The next Op-Ed you read in the paper may have been written by a college intern temp. hired by one of these Consultants doing the bidding of the Mayor’s office …

    The general proposals by the contractors who got selected by the City can be found here:

    http://boisecityid.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_LegiFile.aspx?Frame=&MeetingID=3078&MediaPosition=&ID=12816&CssClass=

  2. Actions by our current elected public servants, Dave and the master Bieters make Brent Coles our next mayor by MY vote.

  3. With a 20-member “community engagement” staff why does the city hire outside consultants to spin the community and “market” its programs? When are city officials themselves going to learn how to inform their constituents, listen to citizens’ ideas and concerns, and gain their consent instead of farming those jobs out to “consultants.”
    As Katie Fite notes, often the consultants are spin-doctors and propagandists. The city’s Climate, Energy and Sustainability project is not the only city effort to be handled this way. “Consultants” were retained to push for hizzoner’s streetcar, to lobby for stationing an F-35 wing at Gowen Field, and to promote the $100-plus-million Safdie Library![!, indeed!]
    It appears that the mayor has privatized his administration’s public involvement responsibilities. His Office of Community Engagement must put much of its effort into managing contracts to market the city and its projects and develop strategic communications plans to bend public opinion.
    City officials need to learn how to do the job themselves. They need to do a much better job identifying and reaching all of their “publics” at the earliest stages of a project. Lately, community engagement is an “open house.” A group of “experts” are there who came up with and/or will carry out the project that has already been decided on. There will be displays of various aspect of the project around the room. Attendees get to hear the experts’ spiels and ask questions. We may get to vote on several details of a project, usually by placing little sticky dots on a map, diagram, or chart.
    But, I digress…

  4. Western guy
    Sep 12, 2019, 9:39 am

    Boise’s Community Engagement staff is 20-strong!!?? I doubt it, but maybe that’s really the staff tasked with getting new condo/apartment projects approved.

  5. Boisean Since Forever
    Sep 12, 2019, 2:53 pm

    Don’t forget the money in our $11 million dollar architect’s fee to conduct a study telling us (me) we are fat and out of shape, so the new library’s elevators need to be out of the way and inconvenient. Climb those stairs, Boise!

  6. Deep Midnight
    Sep 12, 2019, 3:23 pm

    I dont mind paying for solar or wind or whatever constitutes renewable energy. I think that if we have the technology, we should use it; except in their 5g towers going up everywhere…that stuff is dangerous.

    I would have liked to have a say in it though, and I dont know that breaking up money towards various companies is wise; seems like maybe a whole lot of nothing could come from it.

    As Frank notes, the more I read about Brent Coles and what he wants to do, the more I like him.

    At the very least, if we elect a quasi former felon, it should serve as a wake-up call to the tax and spend folks. Chiefly, your next!

    I dont know what to feel about what he did in the past, but I do know I like what he wants to do in the future. I also know he will be under mass scrutiny so…it would be doubly hard for him to mess up again.

    What I like best about him though is that there is no room for blackmail; he already owned his skeletons.

  7. W. Guy:

    The city has recently redesigned its website so that it is virtually impossible to find out who does what down at city hall. However, when we last checked—probably a year ago—there were 20 staff assigned to the Office of Community Engagement under Adam Park.

    Now, the Community Engagement webpage—
    https://www.cityofboise.org/departments/community-engagement/—includes a very foggy, 149-word bureaucratic statement of the office’s “vision” and links to eight projects through which the office supposedly is “engaging” the community:
    New Main Library, Grow Our Housing, Energize Our Neighborhoods, Community Conversations, Boise Kind, Livability Ambassadors, Keep Boise Moving, and Boise’s Energy Future.

  8. western guy
    Sep 12, 2019, 3:50 pm

    Boise City Council and Planning and Development Services dept are ‘energizing’ our neighborhoods by adding more and more apartments.

    No one is commenting about impact of more children on Boise Independent School District.

  9. Bloated Government?
    Sep 12, 2019, 5:01 pm

    Western Guy: The number for Community Engagement staff is probably accurate, as the City’s “new & improved” website simply improved the lack of transparency with local government.

    * 22 staff – Mayor’s Office from 2009 thru 2013.

    * In 2014 & 2015, City Council was spliced into their own data set as 9 & 10.*

    * In 2016, the Office of Community Engagement became their own data set:
    2 staff – 2016
    7.6 staff – 2017
    12 staff – 2018

    * If all three data sets were still only under “Mayor’s Office” it would be 37.8 staff as of 2018:
    15.3 – Mayor’s Office
    10.5 – City Council
    12 – Office of Community Engagement

    These figures are provided in the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report on the city website, from the 2018 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30, 2018 (p.140). It is likely that the number for the C.E. Office has increased since then, to handle all of the “marketing snow-jobs” we have pedaled to us.

    *Full-Time Equivalent City Government Employees – otherwise called FTE’s, of which the elected City Council Members are really only part-timers, so maybe they are not included in this category?

  10. Workin' fer me
    Sep 12, 2019, 5:49 pm

    If I hire 15 firms to work for me for (whatever), then they can’t work for you, my opponent. Conflict. 😕

  11. western guy
    Sep 12, 2019, 8:58 pm

    What are all these people doing? How about a public records request for job titles and descriptions?

    EDITOR NOTE–The GUARDIAN feels the council should oversee the mayor’s office and keep hizzoner and staff in line. They see themselves as the “board of directors” working to rubber stamp the vision of the “CEO.”

  12. What Are These People Doing
    Sep 12, 2019, 11:21 pm

    From the City’s Website – one example of the stuff your tax dollars are paying for. To educate you to support the development machine?

    EnergizED is Energize Our Neighborhoods’ workshop series that focuses on motivating, engaging and connecting Boise’s residents by giving them the information they need to become champions for change on a neighborhood level.

    Exploring Housing
    This series will be offered in October. Each workshop will be held from 6 – 7 p.m. in the Hays Auditorium at the Main Library at 715 S Capitol Blvd on the following dates:

    October 9th
    October 16th
    October 23rd
    October 30th
    This free workshop series is open to all Boise residents.

  13. Another From the C.E. Office
    Sep 12, 2019, 11:38 pm

    How about this one?

    Better Together: Private Development & Public Interest

    How can we bridge the apparent cultural divide between developers and neighborhood residents? Created by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Idaho District Council, this workshop provides greater understanding of the real estate industry’s role in the development of our neighborhoods and cities.

    I attended this “messaging platform” at another location a while back. One of the instructors said the developers really care about the outcome and the impact. This person has been in the local industry for at least 25 years. Maybe years ago that was the case, but now many developers are funded by out of state interests who don’t give one rats #@* about the impact on community, only the impact on their wallet.

    The 4 instructors also seemed to think we (citizens) should have some sympathy for how risky their projects are. So is investing on Wall Street. Development is an investment risk, and just like other investment opportunities, there is no guarantee on the return. Although our current City Council and Mayor have run rough-shod over that principle.

  14. $2 million+ on Community Engagement
    Sep 13, 2019, 3:29 pm

    The Community Engagement & Mayors Office functions were part of this year’s internal audit work plan. Text* below is from the audit report:

    * CE’s expenditures have grown substantially since 2016 – which formed the basis for Internal Audit’s interest in function. During that first year of operation, actual spending totaled $594,349. With a current staff comprised of thirteen members organized into four functional areas of expertise, CE’s expenditures for FY2019 are budgeted at $2,119,276; representing a more than three-fold increase since their first year.

    So an increase in engaging the community has just so happened to coincide with an election year?

  15. western guy
    Sep 13, 2019, 6:14 pm

    Below is verbatim from the Boise City Office of Community Engagement webpage (my is the major refresh of the city’s website related to upcoming election?).

    The language is awful high-falutin. And full of 21st century BS:

    The City of Boise Office of Community Engagement’s role is to foster deeper connections and engagement with citizens of Boise. The Office works to establish a strategic, citizen-centric communication culture within city government that reflects Boise’s vibrant, dynamic and innovative livability, and builds on residents’ high satisfaction with the value of the city services they receive. It is part of a larger effort to bring a first-rate customer service mindset to the city’s interaction and transactions with citizens.

    Using the broad-breadth of 21st century communication tools and technology, we will listen and respond to the feedback of our residents and employees more effectively, while proactively delivering the right messages to the right people at the right time. This effort will prioritize, consolidate and streamline the city’s overall citizen and employee communication efforts, while creating more opportunities for residents to engage with their city government on a more personal level.

  16. I don’t trust ANY plan re “sustainability” and more environmental protections from this City Hall. This is about removing choices and downsizing YOUR way of life for your own “good.”

    This is going to be just like Commiefornia. The worst state to live in by all of the studies. A Third World nation inside a nation. Plutocrats at the top and massive, indoctrinated poor at the bottom, sans any middle class. Highest taxes and costs of living in the USA.

    I used to carry water for these ideas and am sorry for all of it. I used to hate Grover Norquist when he coined the phrase…”I’m going to drag big government into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” Now….I’m right there with Grover….allow ME to add more water.

  17. Why aren’t the industries involved promoting this themselves? They already have more business than they can handle, and lucky for them, consumers have not regarded the cost benefit analysis as a negative. Let’s just stop “promoting” in Boise, period. Hire some law enforcement, and protect and serve us.

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