Ada Sheriff And Commish Trade Barbs

The recent Democratic pile-on of Mike Bloomberg seems like a love fest compared to vicious attacks Friday between Ada Sheriff Steve Bartlett and Commish Rick Visser.

The GUARDIAN has obtained an e-mail exchange between the two County Republican officials which reveals there is little in the way of mutual admiration. The term “dysfunctional” is fired by each official at the other.

In a nutshell, it appears the sheriff opposes House Bill 460 which would allow lawyers to be able to serve garnishment papers on wages and bank accounts and bypass the sheriff. Visser, himself a lawyer, supports the bill.

Both Bartlett and Visser appeared at the statehouse.

The sheriff wrote first to Visser:

Good Afternoon Commissioner Visser,

I wanted to follow up on this sent letter in support of the garnishment bill. I am very surprised that when we were standing outside Jud and Rules this week that you did not tell me you were supporting this bill as myself and the Idaho Sheriff’s Association were testifying in opposition of it.

We at the sheriff’s office and around the state have been fighting against this bill for many many years. It was very disappointing to hear that you are working in direct opposition of what we here in Ada County have worked so hard to maintain and accomplish.

Our job in government is to be fair and provide the very best service to our customers possible. Not to line the pockets of private attorneys.

This is a great example of how dysfunctional we look when we cannot even communicate within our own house. Steve

Then Visser fired back referring to a budget issue more than a year old in which he alleges sheriff slipped himself a 6% raise.

Sheriff Bartlett,
The dysfunctional lack of communication glare has not left my mind in the waste of taxpayers‘ money that you have propagated. I had heard that you knew how to spend other people’s money but not save it the first week of my term.

One of your most disrespectful examples of spending with a lack of transparency is your request for a 6% raise after budget deliberations but before the new fiscal year started. Other elected officials have requested a raise in their budgets, so why didn’t you?! Do you not remember that you never communicated to me about your raise request?! Do you remember talking off the record with Dave Case about your budget but not with me?! If it is not a public writing, you know that your oral communications are not transparent.

You have no one to blame for dysfunction but yourself. Why did you cc this group instead of reaching out to me first? Are you that dysfunctional?

I hope that the media exposes you for your non transparency and your poor communications.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Kent Goldthorpe
    Feb 22, 2020, 8:27 pm

    Congratulations to Sheriff Bartlett. And shame on the commissioner! I’m uncertain where to start on his poor attitude and tone, unjustified as it was. So I’ll remain silent, for now.

  2. Why out in the public?
    Feb 23, 2020, 10:04 am

    How did the letter become public? That in and of itself is bothersome if it was intended to remain private. I do not know which side to be on without further study. I’m leaning toward the sheriff. I can say elected or appointed officials should leave all public office after about 10 years before it becomes a profession for them.

    EDITOR NOTE–By law ALL e-mails regarding public business are public, even on private devices. These were using county e-mail addresses. We don’t suggest there is a “side” here. We posted only to inform citizens of the back stage at Ada County.

  3. And to add the “back stage” at the legislature,the bill is sponsored by Rep Zollinger, from Rexburg, another attorney, with obvious alliance. A great gang to hang out with in the Capitol.

    But more so, Zollinger’s law firm does medical debt collection. He reps for Medical Recovery Services, Inc. In 2 years MRS filed over 5,600 debt claims and Zollinger was the attorney on 90% of them.

    A garnishment fee going to the County Sheriff now, is from $40 to over $150. Imagine if your “collected fees to your own firm would be over $200,000 a year, instead of paying the Shefiff dept for some neutrality in the process?”
    Gee I wonder why Zollinger made the bill.
    To which Sheriff Bartlett sees the loss of revenue to his dept and all sheriffs in the state and the likely unfair aggressive debt collections forthcoming.

    Visser could easily see this affect on HIS county administration yet supports the bill– being an attorney, of course he does. But instead of replying with trying make merits of the bill, he makes a personal attack on the Sheriff.
    Thumbs down to C. Visser.

    Another bad bill- unless you are an attorney in the business of buying bad debt for pennies on the dollar and immediately pursuing legal action (collect your own legal fees), and while knowingly pushing more people into bankruptcy.

    Visser is also the 1 Ada Commissioner to vote to appeal the Idaho Press Club ruling regarding public records request, you know govt transparency? and needlessly spending MORE legal costs. His last statement in this letter caption has a lot of irony-
    for some ‘psychological projection’.

    “Ada County’s approach to handling the Idaho Public Records Act requests in this case was troubling,” the judge wrote. And YET, Visser wanted to appeal that ruling.

    Since Bieter isn’t in the picture, apparently there are no sides to be chosen? ha.
    plus 1- for Bartlett
    minus 4- for Visser.

  4. Thank you Boise Guardian. Two corrections, I told Sheriff Bartlett and his taxpayer funded lobbyist that I had submitted my view and that he may not like just minutes before the hearing on the garnishment bill. Second, Bartlett’s 6% raise for himself. (+ Twice the maximum that any other Ada County employee would receive), was made five months ago, not over a year ago. The main point is the sneaky way Bartlett avoided being open and transparent about his request for a raise for himself. As for Mr. Goldthorpe, his bias against me is longstanding, and he should remember that I was only one of the thirteen AQB members who voted to fire Mr. Goldthorpe for _____ (fill in the blank Kent). 12-1 = terminate Kent Goldthorpe and it is in the public record!

    EDITOR NOTE–All duly noted. The reference to former Commish Dave Case led to the “over a year ago” conclusion.

  5. Does Visser have a bias regarding his support for the bill? Hello, transparency? And it affects the ‘back stage’ at the County.

    AN ACTUAL EXAMPLE from a case that went to the Idaho Supreme Court.

    A man who worked for a trucking company was sued by Medical Recovery Services for a medical debt of $492 plus $285 in legal fees for Mr. Zollinger’s law firm.
    They attempted to garnish his wages, but he had changed jobs and was now working for a farm operation. Once they located him, Medical Recovery Services went back to court and added $908 in new attorney fees for simply doing their job of collecting the debt.

    Wow! Attorney gets paid $1,193 in legal fees alone to collect a $492 medical debt.

    AND the attorney paid a small % of that $492 in order to ACQUIRE the debt- the Doctor gets $50 maybe and is done with it. The attorney chases the full amount + legal fees. It’s like racketeering.

    The attorney gets a court order garnishing up to 25 percent of the defendant’s wages. When someone is living paycheck to paycheck, how do they survive without 25 percent of their wages?

    Not you, readers? YOU don’t have to worry about this? How about your children or grandchildren?

  6. Boise attorney
    Feb 23, 2020, 12:51 pm

    I take strong issue with Sheriff Bartlett’s misrepresentation (false statement) that garnishment service “lines the pockets of private attorneys.” House Bill 460 is more efficient and cost effective as it includes free online service. The current law gives a fee to sheriffs always. Whose pocket is being lined?!!

  7. Dear Easterner,
    Please look into (I.e. research) that I wanted to appeal the public records decision on only one ruling by Judge Bail – the lack of direction by the Idaho Supreme Court on attorney client privilege. Judge Bail sought clarity from the Idaho Supreme Court and I agreed with her. I am 100% for transparency and openness and Bartlett’s sneaky way of requesting his raise is deplorable.Just a month earlier he could have included in his budget request (like 0ther elected officials have), but he chose not to. Even one of the commissioners who approved his raise noted on the record that she was not pleased with the way the Sheriff sought his raise.

  8. Rick Visser
    Feb 23, 2020, 2:06 pm

    First, be open and share your name and email address.
    Second, does the current law affect you $$ in any way?
    Third, I have never received one cent from a garnishment or other legal action. I have worked and volunteered for the non-profit Idaho Innocence Project since 2008.
    Fourth, the efficiency of the new law and the route of a no-fee online option is what attracted to me to the new bill.
    Fifth, Easterner, what has your research revealed about unnecessary fees from a sheriff’s office? Silence, are you a sheriff, related to one or employed by an SO? That would be bias.
    Waiting for your name ….

  9. Commissioner, your statement makes no sense.

    You say, Judge Bail sought clarity from the ISC (‘you agreed’ as if you are the County counsel) and she received it. Fine.
    She rules against the County and rather CLEARLY so.

    Then the Commissioners took a vote whether to appeal the decision.

    You solely voted to appeal the decision.
    Ignoring the CLEAR message from the judge AND the facts of the case.
    “Hey let’s appeal and maybe we’ll win on a lucky day, despite it wasting MORE money”.
    That all relates to your personal attack of the sheriff ‘wasting money’ and being nontransparent, and lack of team communication.

    Dear Commissioner,
    Why do you support this bill that favors collections attorneys & bankruptcy attorneys?
    Which in turn may show why you oppose the Sheriffs’ (Association) support of it.

    The issue is NOT the sheriff’s pay increase- it is WHY are two principals of the county at odds with each other on something that affects the sheriff’s office, and it can’t be a blue/red opposition this time.

    Given the history of county officials lack of cooperation, something like this rolls around come election time.

  10. Concerned Neighbor
    Feb 23, 2020, 5:13 pm

    Sheriff Bartlett has been direct and polite. I have far more trust in police delivering a legal decision than any lawyer.

    Visser has been vicious and condescending in every communication. Add on that lawyers will manipulate these types of summons like they did with the RIAA/MPAA abuse automating lawsuits against kids and grandmothers then you should easily see why no one in their right minds wants to give them the power of judge and jury.

    I’ll remember both when it is time to vote.

  11. Bring back term limits via constitutional (voter approved) amendment. This amendment would limit members of the state House to serving twelve (12) years, or two terms in office. Members of the state Senate would be limited to serving twelve (12) years, or two terms in office. The Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Controller, Judges and the Attorney General would be limited to ten (10) years, or two terms in office. Other state officials and local governing body members would be limited to ten (10) years, or two terms in office.
    Appointment to an office for any amount of time would be equal to one (1) term.
    There should also be a set salary ($12,000 / annual) for all offices in the state Legislature and all expenses incurred (rent, lunches, etc.) during the term must be paid from that salary.
    There can be no retirement from any public office, state, or local governing body.

    EDITOR NOTE–The impossible obstacle is that there is no mechanism for citizens to initiate an amendment. Only through a 2/3 vote of both houses and then a simple majority of voters can the state constitution be amended. Not many politicos will vote themselves out of office!

  12. Rick Visser
    Feb 24, 2020, 7:04 am

    Easterner, Please read the opinion, especially Judge Bail’s part seeking clarity from Supreme Court. Or, ask Betsy Russell of IPT. Betsy was part of the lawsuit and she should understand the part of the ruling that Judge Bail and Commissioner Visser agree needs clarification. That’s the only reason I favored an appeal – to get guidance from the Supreme Court. I agree with every part of Judge Bail’s decision.

  13. Ada County Taxpayer
    Feb 24, 2020, 7:20 am

    When is a secret action OK? When is a lack of transparency OK? The WAY the sheriff sought a raise that was 100% greater than the other Ada County employees got got was not open and transparent. Yes, the WAY Sheriff Bartlett sought his raise is an issue. Openness in government requires being as open and transparent in ones role as a public servant. However Sheriff Bartlett sought and got his raise deserves an investigation. Dan Popkey, are you available?

  14. Rick Visser, I am a republican and a former Ada county employee. A leader would have notified the sherriff to let him know his opinion on the issue. This is good cousel for not only you but also the sherriff. This type of jr high name calling makes me not want to vote for either of you. Also an elected official should have enough poise to not leave comments on comment boards. That makes me want to vote for you even less

  15. Concerned taxpayer..I miss Dan. What’s he up to?

  16. Concerned Neighbor
    Feb 24, 2020, 3:55 pm

    @Erico49 – Dan and CLB are still around though quieter because Beiter was booted. There were also a lot of trolls attacking and it wore people down.

    @David – term limits in other states ended up handing more power to the parties and less individual responsibility to politicians. I think the parties are the problem.

    Thought about Bartlett’s raise – if it was irregular then it should have been denied by the commissioners that are now complaining about it.

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