Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Council Candidate Dave Litster speaks out again on Streetcar Spending

Boise City Council candidate Dave Litster blasted the quarter-million dollars in past and planned spending by the CCDC and Boise City on public relations for Mayor Bieter’s downtown streetcar. 

“Spending nearly a quarter million scarce tax dollars on streetcar public relations is nothing short of obscene,” declared Litster.

“I’m dumbfounded and the taxpayers are fed up.  Apparently neither the Mayor nor the CCDC have gotten the message,” he added.


          The $90,000 public relations contract is again on the Boise Council’s Tuesday agenda with a recommendation to award it to the Mayor’s former campaign aide, Mr. Cronin. Three weeks ago Litster asked the City Clerk to pull it off the routine voice-vote “Consent Agenda” and it was tabled by the City Council. 

The meeting this week will begin at noon, and the public relations contract discussion is scheduled between 1:00 and 2:00 pm, and public testimony will be allowed. [See link with City of Boise agenda and attachments, http://www.cityofboise.org/Departments/City_Clerk/PDF/Agendas/2009/102709ca.pdf].

          “With one firefighter and 12 police positions unfunded and unfilled, how can the Boise City Council justify spending $90,000 in P.R. on Mayor Bieter’s pet project?” asked Litster.


Litster called on downtown employers to declare a “Streetcar Siesta” from 1:00 to 3:00 pm Tuesday so interested employees could attend and testify.  Litster said he will speak in opposition and asked the public to join him.


Litster also released a letter he received from CCDC Director Phillip Kushlan that attempts to justify $135,000 in spending on public relations and “communications” for the downtown streetcar system.

“Unfortunately the CCDC already flushed $65,000 in tax dollars down the drain on trolley folly P.R., but if the public speaks out maybe we can salvage the other $75,000,” said Litster. 

Litster said he hopes taxpayers will contact the CCDC and voice their concerns.

“This is just one more example of why we need a law prohibiting construction on the trolley without a vote of the people,” concluded Litster, referring to the initiative petition drive he has begun to enact such an ordinance.  Current law allows a vote of as few as three Boise City Council members along with the Mayor to authorize construction of the trolley.

Litster sent a letter last week asking the CCDC to give him an accounting of how much was and would be spent on public relations/communications in fiscal year 2009 and 2010.

In Kushlan’s October 19, 2009 letter he said in part:

“You have asked for a detailing of what has been spent to date on streetcar-related communications.  Here are those items:

1)     $43,023 to Drake Cooper for outreach strategy, website development, and targeted communications.
2)     $17,200 to Ritter Consulting for assistance to the Streetcar Taskforce and focused outreach/communications with nearby property and business owners.

“The CCDC Board of Commissioners has allocated an additional $75,000 for the FY 2010 budget.  How much of this amount will be spent, and what specific activities will be supported has not yet been determined.  Expenditures will be made based upon developing needs of the project as advised by the Streetcar Task Force and directed by the CCDC Board.”

The CCDC is the Capitol City Development Corporation that takes a portion of property tax revenue to build infrastructure and enhance downtown.

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