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Training for Bonner County Boards?

Was the motion an act to cover a decision already made – possibly in an executive session, or was the word “engage” used to whitewash hiring Davillier?

Training for Bonner County Boards?

Training for Bonner County Boards?

By Kathy Rose

At the 2/14/23 BOCC business meeting, Commissioner Omodt introduced the agenda item titled “1) Action Item: Discussion/Decision Regarding Board Training”. No other details were provided. Omodt proceeded to introduce Mauricio Cardona who gave a presentation regarding a training program for county boards.

Mr. Cardona is an attorney with the Davillier Law Group, an outside legal firm that the BOCC often uses when there is conflict within the commissioner’s office. Omodt subsequently moved to “engage Davillier Law to design and provide a training program that enables Bonner County public boards to conduct effective public meetings and limit potential liabilities and create a contract and send it to legal for review”.

Many citizens in the audience had concerns and questions. Some people were allowed to speak. At one point, the Chairman Bradshaw threatened to clear the room. And then he clearly explained that the motion was “to allow him (Cardona) to make a proposal as to what that class would look like, whether or not it would have a fee, or he’d be doing it pro bono. We don’t know until we get a proposal. He (Cardona) charges nothing to give proposal. That’s what the question is. Do we want to look at that?”

This was the document pertaining to this agenda item, which the board had in front of them.

 

The motion was not to have Davillier create a proposal, as Bradshaw claimed. This document already presented clearly states it is a proposal. Was the motion an act to cover a decision already made – possibly in an executive session, or was the word “engage” used to whitewash hiring Davillier? This proposal document itemizes billable hours. Prior to the actual vote, Omodt reread his motion and stopped short before the words specifying to create a contract.

Two main concerns were brought up by those in attendance. First, why are we hiring an outside party to provide this training? Reviewing the minutes from January 24, 2023, it was stated by Omodt that he “has been learning about how open meeting law works and that he has been in discussion with our Prosecutor’s Office.”

Specified in Idaho Code IC 31-2604 Duties of the Prosecuting Attorney

3.  To give advice to the board of county commissioners, and other public officers of his county, when requested in all public matters arising in the conduct of the public business entrusted to the care of such officers.

The Attorney General’s office also provides training for public meetings, and Commissioner Williams has already reached out to the AG’s Office who expressed a willingness to provide such training. It appears the public has a legitimate concern about why we are hiring an outside firm.

Secondly was regarding the cost. Looking at the proposal’s projected time commitment, and assuming a $300/hr attorney rate:

The Initial Phase of 31 hours = $9600

The county has 13 Advisory Boards, Councils, and Committees for 13 hours each = $50,700

An estimated grand total of $60,300 to an outside law firm for training on how to run a meeting.

A Public Records Request was submitted on 2/14/2023 for communications between Commissioner Omodt and Davillier. As of this writing, no response has been provided.

  • This subject has been put back on the agenda for the BOCC meeting on Tuesday 2/28/23 by Commissioner Williams as Action Item: Discussion/Decision Regarding Review, Prior Board Decision Regarding Engaging Davilllier Law Group for a Training Program.