More than 200 people crowded into the Ada County Courthouse hearing room to watch Commissioners-elect Dave Case and Jim Tibbs take the oath of office Monday.
But Monday afternoon’s ceremony was a formality. Both Case and Tibbs had been legally sworn in first thing Monday morning so they could get right to business.
The commissioners un-animously selected Case as chairman. One of its other first orders of business Monday was to create a new position, chief of staff, and hire Larry Maneely to fill it.
“We wanted to have some help in trying to move our agenda forward as we look at fiscal responsibility, our outreach efforts, including improving relationships with other government entities, and openness and transparency issues,” Tibbs said. “He is not the fourth commissioner by any means, that is not his role. His role is to help us do what we need to do.”
Case said one of the first special projects on which the commission wants Maneely to focus is improving the county’s handling of public records requests and its communications with the media. Relations with citizens groups and reporters have been strained in recent months over Dynamis, the county’s controversial proposed waste-to-energy project at the county landfill.
The commissioners spent much of the day in executive — closed-door — session, and said later they could be taking other reorganization-related actions this week, which they declined to detail.
And what about Dynamis, which both Case and Tibbs question? The new commissioners remained mum, saying county and Dynamis lawyers are still discussing options and DEQ is still weighing the air quality permit application. There could be news later this month.
OFFICIALS PROMISE TRANSPARENCY
Case said the commission selected Maneely, a former Boise TV sportscaster, for his media, public relations, government and private-business experience.
Maneely spent 12 years in international business as a partner in a food-export trading company and also served three years as deputy director of the Idaho State Liquor Division. Most recently, he has been an account executive with the Idaho Stampede basketball franchise.
Maneely started the $85,000-a-year job Monday. The county is using money from vacant positions to pay for the new post, Case said.
Maneely told the Statesman he has “great respect” for Case and Tibbs’ desire to make the county “more transparent and responsive to the people.”
Case said the public can expect to see more immediate action from the new commission, which he said will be “progressive” and “transparent.”
“There’s going to be a lot of things coming down the pike in the next two weeks,” Case said. “There are a lot of things going on, a lot of things are coming to a head.”
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre served as emcee for Monday’s swearing-in, bringing in some light-hearted humor.
When introducing Tibbs, a former Boise police officer with more than 30 years public service, Yzaguirre said, “The thing I noticed on his resume that jumped out to me, he was a hostage negotiator. I am sure that training will play well for him here.”
Commenting on Case’s service on the Kuna school board, Yzaguirre said, “I am sure that will be helpful in dealing with some of the adult children we see in our lives from time to time.”
Former Commissioner Vern Bisterfeldt administered Case’s oath of office.
Gov. Butch Otter in May appointed Case, who had just ousted Commissioner Sharon Ullman in the primary, to fill out the remainder of Bisterfeldt’s term after he resigned for health reasons.
Having Bisterfeldt at the ceremony, “meant a lot to me,” Case said. “He still has really close ties here, really good feelings here. Having him be a part of this was important. He was the commissioner I replaced. I have gotten to know him quite well.”
RECOGNIZING THE CHAIR
Yzaguirre, the outgoing commission chair, quipped he had no problem handing over the seat, but he was keeping his chair — literally.
Yzaguirre then moved the comfortable black chair he has occupied for several years to the end of table so Case could take the chairman’s position at the center of the table.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell
Larry Maneely was appointed chief of staff for the Ada County commissioners.