Ada Commishes Nix Jail Plan

The GUARDIAN offers kudos to Ada Commishes Ryan Davidson and Rod Beck for not endorsing a plan by previous commissioners to subvert the Idaho Constitutional mandate to seek voter approval for debt to build a jail expansion.

Margaret Carmel at BOISEDEV has a detailed account.

Under former Commish Dianna Lachiondo, a plan was hatched to create a financial product called “certificates of participation” to finance jail construction. The newly elected commishes will either save up some cash or go to the voters–as the Idaho Constitution requires for permission to go into debt.

Lawyers claim the Idaho Supreme Court “blessed” the so-called certificate scheme in a ruling against Guardian editor David R. Frazier in favor of the Greater Boise Auditorium District.

The GBAD and jail issues are not at all similar. The auditorium expansion is owned by the CCDC urban redevelopment agency and leased back to the GBAD. CCDC is authorized to sell bonds without voter approval.

Under the plan nixed by the new commishes, the jail would have been a debt secured by taxpayer assets with no citizen approval.

Ironically, local governments keep approving new construction and attracting more businesses and population all the while complaining about overcrowding at the county jail, schools, and highways.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. I know the primary topic is public approval of debt and likely how is debt really defined (is a cancel-able certificate of participation really debt?) but I have to point out America’s love affair of jailing lots of people for long periods of time. The USA current incarcerates 650 people per 100,000 population. In comparison some other developed nations have much less.

    Germany: 69
    Italy: 90
    UK: 114
    Japan: 39
    Canada: 107

    Even Saudi Arabia where you can be arrested for wearing the wrong color of shoes has 1/3 the incarceration rate we have. Issue is not only why are we the highest, why are we exponentially off the charts? Let’s build fewer prisons and focus on why our justice system is failing us.

  2. I am glad to see that Commissioner Davidson respects the rule of law in this area. However, his attempt to influence the judicial process relative to the trial of fake patriot Ammon Bundy is highly questionable and possibly illegal.

  3. “Ironically, local governments keep approving new construction and attracting more businesses and population all the while complaining about overcrowding at the county jail, schools, and highways.”

    A claim we frequently hear trotted out is how city councils and county commissions are essentially forced to approve all new development under threat of litigation, and that state laws require such approval. My BS-o-meter starts ringing when I hear this, considering how many local officials are bought and paid for by developers and real estate interests. Can anyone here point to examples of Idaho statutes or case law that support this argument? I have heard this claim many times without examples of supporting evidence.

  4. 1. JJ is right. We need to lock up those we are afraid of, not those we’re mad at. 2. Any kudos for Davidson are negated by his attempting to interfere with a Court proceeding.

  5. FunkHobo69 – your BS-o-meter is correct regarding public servants saying or alluding to state law requires approval. The words “shall” and “may” are both used in the Idaho Code, with “shall” meaning something is required, and “may” does not mean required. These words are in Idaho Code 67–65, which is the Local Land Use Planning Act (LLUPA), and forms the legal basis for a city or county’s land use code.

    Section 67–6512 declares that a conditional use permit may be granted and Section 67–6535 says approval or denial of an application. Just these two sections show that approval is not a guaranteed outcome, as a decision is to be made based on standards and criteria, and if they fail to meet these conditions, denial can be the outcome.

    The problem is it takes knowledge of land use law and the political will to say no. How many citizens ask those who are running for office if they truly understand land use law and will strictly abide by it? And how many citizens take the time to learn the land use laws and provide written and oral testimony at a public hearing based on the laws, rather than testimony based on their feelings or how many generations of their family have lived in Idaho?

    Here is the exact language from the code:
    67-6512. SPECIAL USE PERMITS, CONDITIONS, AND PROCEDURES. (a) As part of a zoning ordinance each governing board may provide by ordinance adopted, amended, or repealed in accordance with the notice and hearing procedures provided under section 67-6509, Idaho Code, for the processing of applications for special or conditional use permits. A special use permit may be granted to an applicant if the proposed use is conditionally permitted by the terms of the ordinance, subject to conditions pursuant to specific provisions of the ordinance, subject to the ability of political subdivisions, including school districts, to provide services for the proposed use, and when it is not in conflict with the plan.

    67-6535. APPROVAL OR DENIAL OF ANY APPLICATION TO BE BASED UPON EXPRESS STANDARDS AND TO BE IN WRITING. (1) The approval or denial of any application required or authorized pursuant to this chapter shall be based upon standards and criteria which shall be set forth in the comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance or other appropriate ordinance or regulation of the city or county.

  6. Criminal Justice Reform and more
    Mar 17, 2021, 1:21 pm

    JJ is right about America’s jailing of peolple, and the problem is worse when Sheriff Bartlett whines instead of acts. Bartlett is finally acting, thanks to the challenge from Diana Lachhiondo to make better use of the Transition Center in Boise. But more action could be taken.
    Batlett, Jan Bennetts and the present commissioners should also work to reform the system. Ada County Public Defender Geddes’s ideas about who should be jailed needs to be considered. Jailing someone for minor offenses makes jail crowding worse and is too hard on too many people.
    I also agree with Frank that there is no basis for a local government official being sued for not approving a new development. Rebecca Arnold feared this impossible action (read the law, officals have “discretion” and immunity in performing their legal duties).Alexis Pickering won’t fall for false threats.

  7. Former Commish Lachiondo and current commish
    Mar 17, 2021, 1:33 pm

    The Boise Guardian got the problem only half right. The public records clearly show that current commissioner Kendra Kenyon was also active in the Certificates of Participation scheme. Margaret Carmel and Thomas Plank should take a deeper look at the hatching of the plan.
    When looking through the public records on the plan, I found it hard to beleive that Sheriff Stephen Bartlett was not in attendance at any of the 2019 or 2020 meetings on Certificates of Participation. I doubt if he was in the dark. The lack of transparency by Bartlett is troubling.

    EDITOR NOTE-We agree on your assessment. Kenyon was out voted by the new members.

  8. for Funkhobo– it is called private property rights. That is a basic tenant of America. I can do whatever I want with MY land, as long as it doesn’t hurt you. And that is why local agencies have to (should, shall, do, forced to) approve of it as long as it is within the current rules (P&Z et al). Pretty simple. What do you disagree with about private property rights?

  9. You can’t do whatever you want
    Mar 17, 2021, 6:55 pm

    No, no one can do “whatever they want” with their land. Or, PD, are you joking? Zoning is a clear limitation on private property rights. Anyone can demonstrate in front of the mayor’s house, but no one can start a dairy next door 🐄

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