Question: Where are public comments not suitable for public viewing?Answer: In the alternative governing world of the Ada County commissioners.
The Statesman filed a public records request for 150 written comments on the controversial Dynamis waste-to-energy plant proposal. We havent received the comments, just a letter saying it will cost $110 to provide them.
Why? The county wants its lawyers to sift through the comments and black out any protected information.
Who are the lawyers trying to protect? The Ada County residents who finally got their say on this project nearly 2-1/2 years after Ada County gave Dynamis $2 million in public money to design this plant? Doubtful.
In this case, it appears, the lawyers arent working for the taxpayers. Instead, they seem to be doing the bidding of two of their bosses at the courthouse, commissioners Sharon Ullman and Rick Yzaguirre, who have shown disdain for the public and disrespect for the public process throughout this long, sorry Dynamis saga.
Lets remember, after all, that Ada County residents only got a chance to comment when the planning and zoning commission opted to hold a hearing last month. The hearing wasnt the commissioners idea, so perhaps theyre so out of practice that theyve forgotten the function of a public process.
Which is, of course, to let the public have a say about this unpopular and unproven plan to gasify Ada County landfill garbage into electricity. Ullman and Yzaguirre may be sold on Dynamis but Ullman lost in the May GOP primary, and public outcry over the proposal was certainly a factor.
Instead of slowing down the process, and allowing a full and transparent review of the project, Yzaguirre and Ullman seem determined to push Dynamis through the bureaucratic pipeline before Ullmans term ends in January and before the balance of power shifts on the three-member commission.
So what does the county have to hide? Is there something in these public comments that Yzaguirre and Ullman want to conceal from public view, while they continue to railroad this dubious project? When elected officials squander their credibility, as Yzaguirre and Ullman have, their motives are subject to questions of this type.
There is at least some hope on the horizon.
On Thursday, the Statesman hosted a workshop, led by Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, to brief reporters, elected officials and the public about Idaho sunshine laws. Among those in attendance: commissioner David Case, the courthouses one steadfast Dynamis skeptic, and commissioner-elect Jim Tibbs.
Perhaps, when Tibbs joins Case, Ada County will again have a quorum of commissioners who believe the public has a right to know whats going on in the courthouse.
Now theres a concept.
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