by Tara Morgan
Not many people would turn down $10,000 in free mediation money from the Boise City Council. But on Friday, Sept 10, Greater Boise Auditorium District chairman Mike Wilson penned a letter to Mayor Dave Bieter and the City Council—on official GBAD letterhead—implying the board would do just that.
“After careful consideration of the recent Pocatello district court ruling related to statutory compliance and the legal analysis from the Idaho Attorney General’s office, I cannot recommend proceeding with mediation. It is important for the District to move forward in the best interest of the stakeholders involved, including the taxpayers who entrust the best use of their tax dollars to the District Board.”
Wilson and three other members of the five-member, publicly elected GBAD board voted in late July to cut off $1.3 million in funding to the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau, moving all marketing of the Boise Centre in-house. This move triggered a great deal of public outrage from local hoteliers and businesses that rely on the BCVB to attract tourist dollars to downtown Boise. Eventually, the mayor’s office got involved, asking the City Council to earmark $10,000 for mediation between the two parties.
But at today’s GBAD board meeting—amid protests by board member Mike Fitzgerald that Wilson acted unilaterally in dismissing mediation before the board had officially voted—the board officially voted 3-2 to halt mediation proceedings.
Bobbie Patterson, executive director of the Visitors Bureau—which is now operating pro-bono on an Idaho Travel Council grant from their newly donated space—expressed her disappointment with the board’s vote. “It’s not like they’d have anything to lose [by doing mediation] but time,” she noted.
On Friday, a spokesman for the mayor’s office said they were “deeply disappointed” with the District’s decision. The mayor was out of town today and could not be reached for comment. Check back on citydesk for more updates.