IBR: Bieter Blames Idaho 'Tyranny of the Minority' for Bond Failures


Boise Mayor Dave Bieter had some harsh words for Idaho's "tyranny of the minority" in a talk delivered to Leadership Boise earlier this week.

According to the Idaho Business Review, Bieter criticized Idaho's constitutional requirement that municipalities receive a two-thirds majority vote before issuing bonds that last more than a year, adding that without the state's stringent rules regarding public indebtedness, two recently failed bond initiatives would have been successful.

The bonds—one that would have allocated $17.2 million for public safety improvements and another levying $15.7 million for parks and open spaces—failed to secure the necessary 66 percent approval at the polls Nov. 5, garnering 64 percent and 61.5 percent, respectively. The mayor, IBR reported, said he would like to see the constitutional requirement lowered to 60 percent.

"In almost every other electoral world, that's a landslide," Bieter said, according to IBR.

That sentiment was echoed by those who worked on the pro-bond Yes! Yes! For Boise campaign, who tell Boise Weekly that despite their failure at the ballot box, Boiseans sent a loud message to City Hall that they support paying for improvements like new fire stations and improved parks.

"That was an overwhelming statement," Conservation Voters for Idaho Executive Director John Reuter told BW in an interview the day after the election. "Unfortunately, because of the Idaho Constitution, it wasn't enough."

According to Reuter—whose organization was Yes! Yes! For Boise's biggest donor, through in-kind contributions totaling about $30,000—that means voters haven't seen the last of these initiatives. As early as November 2014, a revised bond, supplemental levy or local-option tax may be back on the ballot.

"Make no mistake, we'll be back," Reuter said.

But the Idaho Constitution wasn't Beiter's only target at Leadership Boise. According to IBR, hizzoner also took aim at the Ada County Highway District's grip on local roadways (an entity that has increasingly drawn the mayor's ire) and the state's generally abysmal record when it comes to sustainability and green business.