Correcting the Media

This blog allows me to communicate the real stories of Ada County government directly to the public, while circumventing the sometimes inaccurate media. Some recent examples point out the need for me to continue to do so.

Correcting the Media, Part I

The Idaho Statesman’s Nick Jezierny got it wrong in his recent article that speculated about who’s to blame for the delayed racing season at Les Bois Park. Racing fans deserve to know the truth.

Ada County issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking an operator for Les Bois Park. Two proposals were received. Both were rejected due to various inadequacies. The formal RFP process ended.

The County then opened the process again, to anyone interested in submitting a proposal. Idaho Entertainment came forward and, within weeks, they came to meet with us and toured the track

We asked Idaho Entertainment to provide the same information requested during the formal RFP process, which they did. They presented a solid business plan and passed the background check. We then negotiated an acceptable contract.

The horsemen like to point fingers, but they’re the ones stopping horse racing. It’s nothing new. They also griped when I tried to prevent Lariat Productions from taking over the facility. They’ve since admitted they were wrong. They’re wrong now too.

Jezierny called the County’s selection process shady. Talk about shady — perhaps Nick should consider his own inaccuracies and then wonder why so many people have no faith in the media.

Correcting the Media, Part II

A recent letter to the editor published in the Idaho Statesman claims that I am (apparently singlehandedly) responsible for the fact that Les Bois Park (now Idaho Downs) has been shut down for the past several months. I think my two colleagues on the Board of Ada County Commissioners would beg to differ!

First of all, it takes two out of the three of us to agree in order for the Board, or the County, to do anything: to enter into a contract, to set the budget, to spend money, to hire or fire an employee, etc. No one commissioner runs the show. Nothing happens without a concerted team effort.

The letter went on to say that I “made a shady deal with a Wyoming group, and changed the rules.” As noted above, no rules were ever changed, and the “Wyoming group” is anything but shady. Now, it’s true that some of the horsemen don’t like them much. They actually want to run their own business rather than have the horsemen run it for them. But then, the folks of Idaho Entertainment are the ones with the skin in the game, so why shouldn’t they run their own business?

Before we struck a deal with Idaho Entertainment, I met with the horsemen and strongly encouraged them to submit a proposal of their own if they were interested in running the track. They never did. Now they complain about the capable operator we did get to come in and run the facility.

The letter writer also claims that, “Instead of renegotiating with Capitol Racing, (I) chose to close the facility.” Not true. My colleagues and I would have been happy to renegotiate with Capitol Racing. Unfortunately, Capitol lost $1.1 million in 2006, $1.2 million in 2007, and $1.3 million in 2008. They didn’t follow up on our offer to come to the table and renegotiate.

The writer goes on to suggest that the county could have hired a racing manager and had the county operate the track. Given that the county used to operate the track, prior to leasing it out back in 1989 in order to prevent further losses, and that it has operated at a huge annual loss in recent years, it would have been downright irresponsible to Ada County taxpayers to get the county back into the business of horse racing.

It would be nice if the Statesman would get the actual facts – not some fabricated version – about Les Bois Park/Idaho Downs out to the public, so that the public isn’t misled on a continuous and ongoing basis, like the poor letter-to-the-editor writer obviously was.

Correcting the Media, Part III

In a recent column, the Boise Weekly’s Nathaniel Hoffman criticizes the County for having incurred a grand total of $70.12 in costs in order to videotape and post online a public Town Hall Meeting about the EMS/Boise Fire ambulance transport issue.

I am failing to see fault here. If Nathaniel wants to point out that at my urging, $70.12 worth of resources were utilized in an effort to provide timely, accurate information to the public on an issue of grave concern to the public and the medical community, I plead guilty.

In addition, I posted the following comment on the Boise Weekly’s online site so you will know “the rest of the story”:

“Nathaniel ~ I was expecting you to also point out, in the interest of full disclosure, the following information that Rich Wright provided to you last Friday:

“Just a quick note: your public records request actually consumed 1.5 hours of our I.T. Director’s time as he had to track down the costs associated with Web hosting and file storage. Your request alone cost $70.50, more than the cost associated with producing and posting the video.”

I believe that $70.12 was a reasonable cost to incur in order to provide the public online access to the video of the EMS/Boise Fire Town Hall Meeting, regardless of who sponsored it. It is up to your readers to decide whether it was worth $70.50 to taxpayers to provide you with the information you needed to write this article.”

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