In the largest, last and probably most important public forum leading up to next Tuesday's Greater Boise Auditorium District board election, all six candidates faced a full house this morning in the basement conference room of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.
In a quick-paced 75-minute format, each candidate followed up a requisite listing of professional accomplishments with their vision for future convention or meeting space. But passions ran a bit higher when the topic turned to GBAD's fractured relationship with the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau. Last July, a deeply divided GBAD board voted to cut off operational funding to BCVB.
"Boise is known as a very friendly place," said Mike Sullivan. "But you'd never know it by looking at the infighting among the GBAD board and the relationship with BCVB. I'm embarrassed that the two groups can't get together for the betterment of the community."
"This is like cutting a hand from a wrist," said Steve Schmader. "It doesn't make sense."
"We need some kind of working relationship with BCVB," said Hy Kloc. He suggested that the BCVB have a salesman-like relationship with GBAD, being paid on a commission based on conventions and meetings drawn to Boise.
David Wali suggested that if GBAD were to fund BCVB, it should be through a formal bidding process. "An RFP (request for proposal) is really the only agreeable arrangement."
Stephenson Youngerman, who last summer voted to cut off funding to BCVB, said he would start the relationship anew. "They could come to us (GBAD) as a client. And like any other client, they would need to negotiate a new contract."
Judy Peavey-Derr said she had no desire to fund BCVB anytime soon. "There's no sense reinstating the past. We're opening ourselves up for a lawsuit."
On the issue of whether the existing Boise Centre should be renovated vs. constructing a new convention center, the candidates were split. Kloc and Wali supported expansion of the existing facility. Sullivan said he didn't want to see a new facility that was "empty one-half to three-quarters of the year." Schmader and Youngerman said they supported a new facility. And Peavey-Derr, while saying she liked the idea of a new facility, said, "all the facts aren't in."
You can read more about GBAD and the stakes in next Tuesday's election in today's BW.