Makeover of ex-Boise Mayor shows low IQ

Oct 1st, 2007 | By | Category: Uncategorized

IQ Idaho Magazine attempts to makeover ex-Boise Mayor and convicted felon Brent ColesIn what could be thought of as a political séance, the September issue of IQ Idaho Magazine, has editor Jeffery Boyle dusting off his trusty “Ouija Board” for the cover story, “Raked Over the Coles.” Boyle attempts to conjure up the image of a benevolent mayor by rewriting the history of former Boise Mayor Brent Coles.

Boyle confuses journalism with public relations hackery. He tries to redirect the blame for Coles’ political demise away from the man himself and toward others. Boyle places KBCI-Channel 2 in his sites as the primary villain. In Boyle’s mind, KBCI should have taken a far more passive reporting style – much like KTVB-Channel 7 – in reporting about the shenanigans of Coles’ administration. To Boyle it is KBCI that should be “raked over the coles” for defending the public’s right to know.

But in IQ‘s political make-over of Coles, the slick rag also takes shots at the former mayor’s most trusted advisor at the time, his chief of staff Gary Lyman. It seems IQ would have us all believe that Coles is a hapless victim of heartless political vendettas. In a total whitewash of the past, Boyle reflects mainly on Coles’ political honors. Coles is cast in a glowing light for his 20 years of public service. We learn about Coles 10 years on the city council and his nearly 10 as mayor. Let us not forget his tenure as President of the U.S. Council of Mayors. But to complete the make-over, Boyle reminds us of Coles’ 15 minutes of national fame for being on the short list for U.S. Drug Czar for the current Bush administration.

Boyle manages to spread the IQ ink like a fine dusting of fertilizer in his magic garden of revisionist history. We should forgive Coles and blame others for his actions. IQ basically subscribes to the neoconservative vision of a “new reality” – if you don’t like the past, simply rewrite it. This can all be summed up very simply for those with a low IQ as Coles paying to high a price for what amounts to a mere “$4,000 mistake.”

IQ delivers a flowery puff piece packaged in a slick magazine that it hopes will buff up Coles’ tarnished image. Boyle tells us that it is time to forget or pardon the historic ‘Peyton Place’ chapter of Boise City Hall that resulted in the conviction of three city executives, crazy sex scandals, and outright fraud. And those who remember the past accurately are unforgiving liberal evildoers who watch KBCI-Channel 2.

What could possibly motivate a news magazine like IQ to publish a public relations puff piece on Coles? Why would Boyle try to pass off pure fiction as fact? Why now? Does IQ have an ulterior motive?

Throughout the cover story, Boyle skims the facts. He prefers to fool the reader into accepting his view of the past. Boyle uses the KTVB-Channel 7 reporting style – which basically amounts to framing stories that protect Republicans and doing it with a smile. IQ‘s apologist tone is indirectly implying that present Mayor Dave Bieter is riding the coattails of Coles’ “success.” That message isn’t said out loud, but is most definitely insinuated.

Consider the fact that Mayor Bieter is running for reelection in November and he is not a Republican.

Political diversity is unheard of in Idaho politics today. Mayor Bieter has many successes and he has effectively cleaned up the disaster left behind by one of the worst city administrations in Boise history. This means only one thing to conservatives and their media spin machine – it is time to turn to the Karl Rove playbook on mock journalism and political spin.

It should be noted that Mayor Bieter served several terms as a Democratic State Representative in the Idaho Legislature prior to being elected as the Boise Mayor with 52 percent of the vote in a four-way race. The single-party conservatives have been seething over that election since it happened.

There are many points of the “would be” journalism published by IQ Idaho that demand rebuttal, further many facts are simply omitted.

Let us compare the realities of the past with IQ‘s revisionist history written by Boyle.

In November of 2003, Boise City Council President Mike Wetherell, now a District Judge, noted some receipts with suspiciously high sums submitted by then Mayor Brent Coles and his Chief of Staff Gary Lyman for airfare to a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Rochester, New York. Regarding the receipts, The Idaho Statesman wrote that Wetherell, “noticed $3,500 worth of airline tickets for Coles and Chief of Staff Gary Lyman to fly to Rochester. He also found what he thought was an unusual invoice from the U.S. Conference of Mayors for $580. He later learned that invoice was for tickets to see “Oklahoma” at the Gershwin Theater on Broadway… Coles said the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which paid for the theater tickets, was to be reimbursed from the city’s bonus fund€¦Wetherell said he called the U.S. Conference of Mayors, of which Coles is past president, and learned the invoice didn’t come from the organization. The group’s accountants told him not to pay it, he said.”

Upon further investigation, it was found that while under the pretenses of flying to Rochester for the meeting, both Coles and Lyman took a side trip to New York City to meet up with two other city employees, had dinner and saw a Broadway show, spent the night in New York and then flew back to Rochester the next day for the last day of the meeting before returning to Boise. From that point on, the floodgates opened as the City Council placed Gary Lyman on paid leave, reigned in the Mayor’s spending authority, began a review of the past four years of spending in the Mayor’s office, opened up the past travel of the Mayor and his staff to review, and launched an investigation of “P-Card” (city credit card) spending by all employees.

After a review of the Coles/Lyman trip by then Boise Chief of Police, Don Pierce, that dubiously found no wrongdoing, the Council voted to hand the investigation over the Ada County prosecutor, who in turn passed it on to the Idaho Attorney General to avoid a possible conflict of interest, something that was evident when Boise’s Police Chief conducted his review. Chief Pierce was later found by the Idaho AG office to have withheld information from the investigation into the New York trip.

Even after Coles forced Lyman to resign with hopes of placating the Council, Coles was still in the hot seat. The Council voted to hire four auditors from Jefferson Wells International to conduct a forensic audit of city spending. I particularly remember the look on Brent Coles face during that vote. If you’ve thought of Idaho as lily-white, that is nothing compared to the pasty color of Mayor Coles’ face, which carried a look of distinct pain with the realization of what was to come.

History of Questionable Ethics

Brent Coles Resignation as Boise's MayorSoon, a history of questionable ethics surfaced that included manipulating the budget to hide purchases, the purchase of expensive items for personal use including a vent-less fireplace, portable DVD player and other items removed from and later returned to City Hall by Coles, Lyman and Pierce (caught on city security video), the purchase of flowers, side trips to resorts including Otter Crest in Oregon, vacation stops at Monticello and Moline, Illinois (notably an LDS religious site) for Gary Lyman and then Human Resources Director Tammy Rice, limousine rides, expensive dinners, and a year-and-a-half long extramarital affair between Lyman and Rice. Eye-winking trips were not reserved to Lyman and Rice alone. While at a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in February, 2002, Coles and Lyman dined on two occasions at the restaurant attached to the renowned Florida Keys hotel, La Te Da (known for its drag queen cabaret and clothing optional pool and terrace), even though Coles had attempted to pass a nudity ban in Boise.

Illegal Eavesdropping (It’s a Bush thing)

Cole's Chief of Staff, Gary LymanAdditional investigations determined that Lyman had illegally tapped the City Councl Chambers in order to secretly listen in on closed-door Council executive sessions and labor union contract negotiations from his office. Coles was also found in a compromising situation parked outside his aid, Susan Burton’s house by a police officer at 4:12 in the morning. Coles lied to the officer about the apparent stalking saying he was helping his son deliver papers, but later recanted claiming insomnia. In terms of romantic getaways, Coles can point to his trip to the Salt Lake City Olympics with his wife, compliments of Blue Cross of Idaho which eventually won a city contract to provide city employee health insurance. The fiasco ended with the firing of the City attorney Susan Mimura, Mayoral aid Suzanne Burton, and Chief Pierce, and the resignations of and later jail time for Mayor Coles, Chief of Staff Lyman and HR Director Rice.

In his IQ story, Boyle places significant blame for Coles’ fall directly at the feet of Lyman, by whom Coles had supposedly been duped. Boyle refers to Lyman’s management style as having a “Rasputin type grip” and that his deceptive nature was the true cause of the City Hall problems that eventually led to Coles’ crucifixion.

According to Boyle, Lyman “rewarded friends and supporters and punished those he viewed as rivals or enemies. His actions offended many and polarized local politics. That said, politics is a game of polarization. It is impossible to be all things to all people and Lyman’s management style was not criminal and should not be viewed as such.”

Boyle seems willing to overlook that sleeping with a subordinate and then promoting that person constitutes criminal management or highly questionable ethics to say the least.

According to The Idaho Statesman, “In late 2001, it was a large raise to Rice that sparked a public flap and prompted City Councilwoman Paula Forney to question Coles. Rice later was revealed to have been Lyman’s lover since 1998€¦On Oct. 30, 2001, Coles responded to a request from Forney regarding Rice’s background and education. He staunchly defended Rice, saying he’d never met a “brighter and more dedicated public servant.”€¦He acknowledged that Rice did not have a college degree, but pointed out that local billionaire J.R. Simplot does not have more than an eighth-grade education.” Coles also willingly made excuses for Lyman knowing the extent of the quetionable behavior after being warned and shown evidense of emails. Further in the same article, The Idaho Stateman wrote,

Shortly after the November 2001 election, the City Council and Coles ordered Mimura to perform an investigation into what the AG’s investigators later described as the relationship between Lyman and Rice.

On a document stamped “CONFIDENTIAL” seven times, Mimura wrote that the findings caused her “great concern.” Mimura provided e-mails between Lyman and Rice, at least some of them from Lyman’s city computer. The e-mails are laced with talk of religion and spiced with sexual innuendo that same package of documents included personal e-mails between Lyman and three other women, one of them a city employee.

Mimura, some of her staff and Police Chief Don Pierce confronted Coles with the results of the investigation in December 2001. In addition to the sexual affair, Mimura found “considerable” abuse of the purchasing card system by both Lyman and Rice, according to an interview AG investigators conducted with Debbie Allen, then a paralegal in the city attorney’s office.

According to the investigative files of the Idaho attorney general, Allen recounted the “team’s” two meetings with Coles.

City officials were worried that if Rice were fired, she would file a sexual harassment suit against the city over the affair with Lyman. (Rice did later resign but apparently did not file a suit.)

Members of the team advised Coles to fire Lyman immediately, but Coles said Lyman was a valuable employee with great abilities. Coles went on to describe the close relationship between him and Lyman as a result of working and traveling together and being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The team gave Coles the package of e-mails.

The next day, the team met again with Coles. Allen said Coles wanted Lyman to stay on for six more months. Pierce told Coles criminal implications could arise from the findings and urged the mayor to fire Lyman, Allen recounted.

IQ ignores Coles’ defense of Lyman

At the time the Boise City Council placed Lyman on paid leave, Coles still jumped to his defense in speaking with The Idaho Statesman. According to the paper, “Coles said Lyman is a valuable employee and deserves credit for last year’s special levy to protect the Foothills and for recruiting Pierce to become police chief, among other things. He said there is no evidence of illegal action by Lyman, the leader of Coles’ inner circle.”

Just how Boyle is able to claim that Coles’s good will was unknowingly abused by Lyman with an ol’ “Et tu, Brutus ?” is inexplicable. Further stinging Coles and Lyman, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints found it necessary to relieve both Coles and Lyman of their leadership positions in the church, and issued a press release stating so, ostensibly for public damage control. An Idaho Statesman article notes what could be the reason the church might well be worried about bad press writing, “the special independent audit of city finance and travel records found Coles and Lyman used taxpayer dollars to visit various LDS temples and other sites. Also, Lyman used a city procurement card to buy 10 copies of LDS President Gordon Hinckley´s book “Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes.”

In the style of a Soviet revisionist of history, Boyle tells us in bold print that Coles is only guilty of a “$4,000 mistake” that was unjustly hyped by the media. It is KBCI-Channel 2′s fault for the fact that the Boise City Council wasted over $95,000 of tax payer money on the forensic audit. In other words, if we have conservatives in office who are friendly with KTVB-Channel 7 management, their actions are above reproach.

Noting that Coles offered to repay the city for the New York trip (only after having been caught red handed) Boyle starts to kill the messenger by attacking KBCI-Channel 2. Suddenly it is the fault of KBCI for defending the public’s right to know about political corruption.

Boyle writes that KBCI had done over 100 stories on Coles and failed to do any honest investigation. He claims he attempted to contact the station, but did not receive any replies from station management. He says he made a single call, which seems to lack tenacity for in-depth analysis on his part.

IQ kills the messenger with fraudulent attacks on KBCI

To that point, in an interview with the Boise Weekly, the current KBCI new director Yvonne Simons says she was never contacted by IQ, and has since offered air time to IQ but they refused to accept her offer unless the station gives them complete editorial control of the segment, which they offer to no one.

IQ also failed to contact Scott Picken, who was news director at the time of the Coles investigations, and now is the news director at KIVI Channel 6 in Boise. Furthermore, IQ failed to contact any of the three reporters of the original stories, all of whom are still in the Boise area.

Former KBCI reporters Jon Hanian, Michael Keckler and Jeff Ray, who broke the story, have since released a statement printed by the Boise Weekly, saying they stand by their reporting, which received the DuPont and Edward R. Murrow awards for investigative journalism.

Instead, Boyle relies on quotes from the former KBCI sports reporter Wayne Dzubak, who he fails to disclose now works for IQ Idaho as a sales representative.

In his attack of KBCI, Boyle fails to acknowledge that other news outlets also followed the Coles story. An archive search for the last two months of 2002, and for the year 2003, shows hundreds of stories printed by The Idaho Statesman that in one way or another discuss the Coles scandal.

IQ – don’t look over there€¦ look here at the shiny thing

Boyle employs a diversionary tactic that would make Soviets blush. He directs readers away form historic fact only to focus on such points as the balanced city budgets Cole presided over, the leadership he provided for the Community House homeless shelter, fundraising to purchase the Boise Train Depot, purchased the land for a detox center and library expansion, work to develop the Boise downtown, hiring of more police officers and other various, accomplishments in office as proof that he has been done wrong and deserves to be canonized to the status of Mayoral Sainthood.

However in a more though post-mortem examination, reality points to some serious failings beyond the obvious events that saw him behind bars.

At the time Coles left office Boise did not have a police station, instead the police were sharing an already overcrowded space with the Ada County Sheriffs Office. Under Coles’ so-called leadership, the Community House fell into financial and managerial disarray which later forced the City to divest itself of the shelter. As of Coles’ resignation, shelter policies and procedures hadn’t been updated since 1999, and the shelter budget hadn’t been audited since 2001, and the 2000 audit was never released because the shelter couldn’t afford to pay the auditors the $7,000 owed for the audit services.

Coles left the library issue similarly dead in the water, with a library that was sized for a population a quarter of Boise’s current size. Patting Coles on the back for a detox center is equally premature, since one does not exist in Boise.

The Train Depot that Coles helped find money for was severely underutilized by the public when he was in office. Except for when Lyman and Rice were able to have several trysts there in the women’s restroom. What is it about Republicans and restrooms?

Under Coles’ tenure in city hall, downtown was developed, however, the Boise Capital City Development Corporation that oversees development basically sold out to out-of-town developers and gave away vast areas of public right-of-ways for the profit of the developers. Not reported by IQ is the fact that Coles left office with a gaping undeveloped hole in the heart of the city at Main and 8th Street.

Lastly, and most important, the numerous kudos Coles received for his budget management were awarded to what amounted to cavalier budgeting practices that originated in the booming 90s when the city could count on a healthy surplus due to a healthy economy and growth.

Although the economy took a downward turn in 2001 when Coles was mayor, nothing was done differently and base operating costs were still paid for with one-time revenues when he left office in 2004.

Coles never bothered to notice that those one-time funds had dried up. By the time current Mayor Bieter took office, the city was hearing the ticking bomb of a deficit projected to exceed $8 million dollars.

The Coles budget also lacked structural balance, with the six-year financial plan having no provision for employee raises. In short, Coles extraordinary budgeting ran Boise’s budget six feet under. Luckily for Boise citizens, Mayor Bieter’s administration has developed a structured budget based around a strategic plan that pays for ongoing expenses with ongoing revenue, not one-time windfalls.

With all of the history attributed to former Boise Mayor Brent Coles, certainly there are positives. He did have a progressive vision for Boise’s future in areas such as, the preservation efforts of the Boise Foothills. He did bring attention to the need for a mass transit system between Boise and outlying communities, and he was skilled at marketing Boise to outside investment interests resulting in a blip in the local economy.

But the short list of good things does not justify a total front page glossy rewrite of history as IQ‘s Boyle would has us believe. IQ failed to cover the complete story and simply seems happy swimming in the tainted waters of weak journalistic ethics by not reporting a balanced story.

Simply put, there are no excuses for Coles’ illegal and unethical behavior, his complacent tolerances of his LDS Church elder Lyman, and his failure to duly protect and serve the citizens of Boise. No amount of revisionist history and conspiracy claims on the part of Boyle and IQ Idaho can take away the fact that Coles, Lyman and Rice all pled guilty to the felony charges of misuse of public funds, for which they all served jail time.

Brent Coles Idaho Department of Corrections Release Records

H. Brent Coles was sentenced to 180 days in County Jail and three years probation which appears to have been completed January 11, 2007 according to records from the Idaho Department of Corrections

In no way can IQ redirect the blame for Coles’ misfortunes onto a new agency that provided the news given them by an unethical mayor, or paint him as the martyr of a former Boise Camelot that deserves retribution.

And lastly, although a hefty financial burden was born by the Boise taxpayers for the forensic audit ordered by the Boise City Council, it was by no means money poorly spent. Instead, it laid the groundwork to revamp the city budgeting process, aided in establishing ethics rules, and will assure that Boise does not fall prey to future malfeasance. While Boyles has failed to accomplish his objective, his article has successfully reminded Boise of where it has been, and where it must not return. editor, independent journalist & LGBT media spokesperson,
Jody May-Chang now writes on "As I See It...Reporting from the front lines

As I See It Jody Reporting from the front lines

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  1. What a fine story. But, who puts out “low” IQ magazine? Who is Boyle and what rock did he crawl out from under?

    Is it possible that Idaho Republicans don’t have enough to embarrass them at the moment that they need to bring back Coles?

    And, Gee what ever happened to the investigation of the U of I Foundation fiasco by the US Attorney’s Office?

    Thanks for the fun story

  2. This whole thing took place before I moved from Boise and I would have thought it totally sunk any chance for Coles to come back from the dead. Why are they polishing up this turd?

  3. What is the point of this whole thing anyway? Is he going to get back into politics or is IQ just doing a personal favor for a friend? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

  4. I get the distinct impression that Boise Republicans are no more heartened by their man Jim Tibbs than national Republicans are about the slate of politicians seeking the GOP nomination for president.
    IQ Idaho and KTVB are harkening back to their grand old days of Brent Coles like the national folks are with recollection the memory of Ronald Reagan, in both cases overlooking some very important failings. A scary similarity is their utter lack of insight into the basics of budgeting. Reagan led us into one of the greatest budget deficits ever, that is to say, prior to the current one, and Brent Coles did the same to the Boise budget.

  5. Brent Coles was as guilty as sin and deserverd to serve even more time than he did. If I were to do what he did, I would still be in jail. He got off light and he knows it.He always had a pious attitude.I went to church with him, and was ostricized for pointing out his waste of taxpayer money and violation of peoples contitutional rights.His illegal ordinances(look up anti gun ordinance 23rd june 1998) and his phoney, rubberstamping, police ombudsman, made him a true politician. A real crook. Hey Brent, if Richard Nixon were alive, do you think he would have the guts to run for office again?

  6. Wow, what a Michael Moore-ish tirade. There’s a reason why this State leans so heavily conservative/Republican: it’s because there a relatively few Leftists here (present company excluded of course). Even most of our Democrats lead conservative lives, even if they don’t actually vote that way all the time. But with Republicans shooting themselves in the feet at every turn, thus throwing actual conservatives under the bus, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before all the whiny liberal lefties turn this great State into the the Berkely nirvana they so desire (but ironically, didn’t move here for).

    Flame away, oh self-proclaimed open-minded and tolerant ones.

  7. Anonymous huh, Don’t you at least have the guts to let people know your opinion and your name? Oh, and please don’t ever put me and michael moore in the same sentence ever again. There is nothing we have in common. I guessing you must have really liked living in boise when Old Brent ran the show. Or you agreed with his wasting taxpayer dollars on himself. Or his complete lack of ethics. Or his violations of state law. Why else would you defend him and attack me? I haven’t done anything wrong.