University Place and All The Governor's
Deep Throat II
Chapter 3 - Cryptic Partners
“What would happen if every
homeowner in Idaho ran out and had their lawyer form their own 501 c (3)
non-profit dummy corporation called Friends of My Favorite Fixer Upper Home,
Inc., rented their own home from their “Friends” tax-exempt corporation, and
had their “Friends” pay their mortgage to the bank and thus avoid all county
property taxes? After that, you can buy your home from your “Friends”
for one dollar. That’s exactly what the Ada County Commissioners and the
Friends of the Ada County Judicial System, Inc. did in their fake
rent-purchase scheme to get around the Idaho Constitution and run a
is Civic Partners? Whoever they are, they donated the maximum
allowable campaign contribution, $5,000 according to www.followthemoney.org, to Governor Kempthorne in 2002, the same year
the Governor and all his merry men went before the Idaho state legislature
and put on a dog and pony show to convince 88 out of 105 legislators to
issue $136 million for tax-exempt bonds via the Idaho State Building
Authority (ISBA) to pay for the University Place fiasco.
versions of Civic Partners existed during this fiasco: (1) Wilmore
Holdings, Inc., (2) Civic Partners, LLC, (3) Civic Partners Idaho, LLC, and
(4) Civic Partners West, LLC. Steve Semingson is the president or CEO of
each. Since nobody seems to know what all these versions of Civic Partners
did to earn over $28 million in pre-development costs billed to the U of I
Foundation, I refer to them collectively as Cryptic Partners.
How Cryptic Partners
became the highest paid recipient of the money spent on Boise’s University
Place is a long twisted story. Let’s cut right to the chase, keep it short,
and start at their questionable beginning: namely, winning the RFP (Request
For Proposal) for developing all the property along Boise’s Court House
First, Ada County
decided to buy 14.25 acres of bare land in downtown Boise from Union Pacific
Railroad. How did they do it?
Partners flew into Boise in the early 1990s, the Ada County
Commissioners and Idaho’s legal community (from regular lawyers to the Idaho
Supreme Court Justices) pulled off the judicial stunt of the century: an
unconstitutional end run around the voters to illegally purchase 14 acres by
pretending to lease it through a dummy corporation.
According to Idaho’s
constitution, Article 8, Section 3, no government agency can incur a debt
that goes into future years, a deficit, without a two-thirds majority
approval of the voters. In 1990, fearing the voters would vote NO on a bond
by Ada County to purchase land to build a new Court House, the Ada County Commissioners, Boise law firms, and Idaho judges openly met to
find a way to circumvent Idaho’s Constitution.
Ada County Commissioners, with no authority from
the taxpayers, cut a check for $50,000 and paid it to Stewart Title Co. to
hold the 14 acres owned by Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR).
Then, three Boise
lawyers, Jack Hawley, Howard Manweiller, and Carl P. Burke, formed a 501 c
(3) non-profit corporation called Friends of the Ada County Judicial
System, Inc., the function of which was to buy the UPRR land for $4
million and pretend to lease it to Ada County for 4 years, thus allowing Ada
County to circumvent Idaho’s Constitution and carry a deficit from year to
year to buy the land for a new Court House. Two of the three Ada County
Commissioners, Roger Simmons and Vern Bisterfeldt – but not Gary Glenn, who
vehemently opposed the fake lease-purchase scam – and all the politicians
including Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne (now Governor Kempthorne who
participated in the University Place scam), leading Boise lawyers and
judges, and Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey claimed the fake
rent-purchase deal was completely legal, above board, and the most brilliant
far-sighted maneuver for public-private development ever conceived in
Idaho’s legal history.
But Stewart Title Co.
said to the Friends of the Ada County Judicial System, hey, $50,000
isn’t enough for a down payment to buy the $4 million UPRR land; we need
$800,000 for a down payment. So, Ada County – once again without approval
from the taxpayers – cut another check for $750,000 and gave it to
Friends for Friends to purchase the UPRR land.
But wait a minute.
Screech, halt. How can Ada County pay $800,000 in supposed rent to
Friends of the Ada County Judicial System, Inc. for property that
Friends did not own yet? The face of both checks from the Ada County
Treasurer state they are for the purchase of the UPRR land, not rent. In
fact, the $50,000 Ada County check cannot be a rental check to the
Friends since it was made out to Stewart Title Co. to purchase the
land. So who’s kidding whom? The Idaho legal community was simply helping
Ada County violate Idaho’s Constitution, Article 8, Section 3, by pretending
to rent empty land for $1 million per year to Ada County while Ada County
ran a $4 million deficit for 4 years by purchasing the UPRR land through a
dummy non-profit corporation, a corporation created, in part, by lawyer Carl
P. Burke whose law firm Elam & Burke is currently facing charges of
misconduct (along with law firm Givens Pursley and 3 lawyers from both
firms) by the Idaho State Bar Association. All of the same perps (and
Cryptic Partners) are also facing multiple lawsuits -- $7 million, $18
million, and $25 million -- by the U of I, and U of I Foundation in the
subsequent University Place fiasco.
Back to the scene of the
Court House fake rent-purchase land scam. This is important because it sets
the stage for the future involvement of the Boise legal community and
So Ada County
Commissioners violated the Idaho Constitution and illegally bought the UPRR
land for a new Court House by illegally running a deficit not approved by
the voters. How did Ada County ultimately buy the land after they
supposedly rented it for $4 million for 4 years? At the end of the fake
4-year lease, the Friends of the Ada County Judicial System Inc. sold
the Court House land to Ada County for $1.00. One dollar.
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