Boise auditorium board’s division escalates with allegations of improprieties

From the Idaho Statesman


Board member Judy Peavey-Derr has filed a complaint with the Ada County prosecutor’s office, alleging open meeting and ethics violations by fellow Greater Boise Auditorium District board members Mike Fitzgerald, Hy Kloc and Gail May.

Kloc, the board chairman, said the allegations are unfounded.

Two new members were elected in May to the board, which oversees the Boise Centre convention facilities, collects a 5 percent Boise-area hotel room tax and is looking at building a new Downtown convention center. The complaint is only the latest in a series of district standoffs, rumors and disagreements that have escalated since the election.

In her complaint, Peavey-Derr alleges that the three members — constituting a quorum of the five-member board — discussed proposals coming before the board. She said she based that complaint, in part, on the three having information about agenda items that she and member Stephanie Astorquia were not privy to.

In addition, she said the three members intentionally skirted state procurement laws that guide contracts of $25,000 or more in awarding a $24,500 contract to the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau. She also said the board let the visitors bureau help draft GBAD’s request for marketing services in such a manner that the bureau would be the only entity qualified to provide these services, another violation of procurement law.

Kloc said he met with Fitzgerald and May outside formal meetings before he took office, but not since. Members do communicate one on one, which does not violate the open meetings law. And, he said, the board’s legal counsel vetted the BCVB contract before the board approved it, and the majority accepted that advice.

Other GBAD issues that have emerged in recent weeks:

Fitzgerald has an eastern Idaho job.

For the past two months, GBAD board member Mike Fitzgerald has been working in eastern Idaho as the general manager of Carino’s Italian Restaurant in Ammon. Of the past seven board meetings, Fitzgerald has attended two in person and the other five via telephone.

Kloc said he consulted with GBAD’s lawyer, who said that since Fitzgerald still has his residence in Boise, is registered to vote in Ada County and intends to return to Boise, he is considered a resident of the auditorium district. Kloc said he’s received a number of queries, but Fitzgerald will not be asked to step down.

The check to the BCVB is still not signed.

For more than a month, GBAD treasurer Astorquia has refused to sign a $24,500 check payable to the BCVB. She said she is not sure the transaction is legal because, in part, the amount intentionally skirts the state’s $25,000 procurement law. She has repeatedly asked Kloc and the board to have independent legal counsel review the contract; she said if it passes muster, she would sign the check.

The board has refused to support the request for additional legal review. On Aug. 17, the board voted 3-2 to give check-signing authority to the board chairman as well as the treasurer.

Chairman Kloc said once the bank paperwork is complete and BCVB documents it has completed the contract’s work, he’ll sign the check.

According to BCVB Director Bobbie Patterson, rumors that the money would be used to repay personal loans she has made to the visitors bureau are not true. Patterson — who once made more than $150,000 a year as BCVB director — and her staff have been working without pay since GBAD cut them off last year over legal and oversight concerns.

A new contract with the BCVB is still up in the air.

On Aug. 11, the GBAD board voted 4-1 to offer the visitors bureau a one-year, $288,128 marketing services contract. The contract includes a $208,728 commission on events and business the visitors bureau brought to the Boise Centre in 2010 and $79,400 in-kind office space and equipment the district would provide the bureau.

As of Friday, the auditorium district had not received a response from the bureau as to whether it would accept the contract.

The visitor’s bureau had requested an “annual fee not to exceed $650,000.” Patterson said BCVB and GBAD lawyers are still meeting to iron out details on determining an accurate commission formula and contract amount.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428

From the Idaho Statesman

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