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UPDATE: Traffic Boxes and Basketball

Boise Arts & History Department tells artists: "The traffic box program is on hold indefinitely."


UPDATE: June 17, 2015 In the wake of a decision by the Boise City Council to order staff to take a hard look at how the city awards bids for the fabrication and wrapping of traffic boxes (BW, News, "Outside the Box," May 27, 2015), the Boise Arts & History Department has sent a letter to local artists that the fallout from the reversal is that the things are in limbo. "The consequence of this decision is: the traffic box program is on hold indefinitely," wrote Karen Bubb, public arts manager for the Arts & History Department. "Our purchasing department is revisiting the purchasing process and will determine how to best move forward." Bubb added, "This issue may or may not be resolved this summer before the weather turns too cold to attach vinyl on boxes." ORIGINAL STORY

Attorney Jessica Pollack had just emerged victorious from a precedent-setting challenge to the city of Boise's bidding process for the fabrication and wrapping of public art around traffic boxes. It was the first time in memory that a city procurement process had been protested, let alone successfully challenged. Pollack convinced a majority of city leaders that the process had been unfair and bids needed to go back to the drawing board.

"Honestly, we didn't do much celebrating. We just went home and watched the NBA finals on TV," she said.

The "we" is Pollack and her client, Mike Tankersley, who is also her husband and the owner of Boise-based Signs2U. Boise Weekly readers learned about Tankersley and Pollack in May, when they questioned the Boise City Department of Arts and History bid process, which was about to be awarded to another sign company that had actually been the highest bidder. A formal challenge followed the BW investigation but was denied by city staff. The complaint ended up in a formal protest hearing before the Boise City Council.

Taking on City Hall can be a bit like taking on NBA living legend LeBron James, who ultimately went down to defeat at the skils of the Golden State Warriors.

"This is really about two victories," Pollack told BW. "The smaller victory is that this is being re-bid, but the larger victory comes when the city takes a good hard look at its procurement process."

Council President Maryanne Jordan said it was a "miracle that this is the only situation like this that we can remember having," and that her concerns "were many and varied" before recommending that the original traffic box art wrap bid be sent back to the drawing board. The rest of the council agreed, with one exception: Councilman Scott Ludwig, himself an attorney, who said the bid should not have been rescinded.

"There's no question that selecting the art is subjective," said Mayor Dave Bieter, "but the application of that art is quantifiable. It becomes more of an objective process."

The Department of Arts and History initially told BW that it wanted to have the 39 traffic boxes wrapped by this summer, but a reboot on the bidding process will most certainly push that back.