It has been nearly 50 years since the Ada County Highway District was formed, with voters giving the entity authority over roads and streets, including within the city of Boise. Still, even all these years later, a good many Boiseans aim their criticisms at Boise City Hall when the roads are in lousy shape. City officials said calls are lighting up Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's phone—more than 500 at last count—complaining about unplowed and/or untreated streets in the wake of record-setting snowfall and a subsequent ice storm.
Bieter, for the most part, agrees with many of those callers.
"If this was [the city of Boise's] performance, I would expect to be turned out of office," Bieter told KTVB at the height of the storm. "It's never going to work. [ACHD] is a system that is doomed to fail."
Bieter doubled-down in an op-ed, writing, "This isn't just poor service to the public; it's a threat to public safety. And it's unacceptable." Bieter's opinion piece was co-signed by Council President Elaine Clegg and council members Maryanne Jordan, Lauren McLean and Ben Quintana. Two signatures were missing: Councilmen Scot Ludwig and TJ Thomson.
"I didn't approve of the tone," Thomson wrote on his Facebook page, adding, "ultimately, the voters will decide."
Paul Woods also knows a thing of two about letting voters decide. County residents selected him to be an Ada County commissioner in 2007 and an Ada County Highway District commissioner in 2014. He also knows something about working for Bieter. Between his forays in politics, he worked for Bieter as manager of the Public Works Department Environmental Division. In his current role as ACHD commission president, Woods pushed back hard against Bieter's criticism of the highway district.
"[Bieter] and the council majority are preying on our emotions," wrote Woods in his own op-ed. "The egregious twisting of the facts cannot go unchallenged."
With yet another winter storm preparing to wallop the Treasure Valley on Wednesday, Jan. 18, the avalanche of criticism is expected to continue.