A draft of our lead editorial for Friday:
Were it not for Karen Ellis, vendors wouldn’t even have a Capital City Public Market.
Ellis founded the Downtown market nearly 20 years ago. Ellis been the market’s only executive director, long working with little oversight from a board of directors. She has been a staff of one, presiding over a market that brings together some 180 vendors and thousands of Saturday morning Boise browsers.
The market isn’t just a place for vendors to sell local or organic products. It is a part of the Downtown landscape, and for its devotees, it is a part of the weekly rhythm of life in Boise. All this started with Ellis.
On Tuesday, Ellis’ tenure came to an abrupt, ugly end, when the market’s board of directors fired her.
Ellis’ critics weren’t shy about airing their grievances in public: sloppy record-keeping, failing to pay taxes on several employees, confusing and cumbersome rules, preferential treatment that provided some preferred vendors prime locations.
This is just one side of the story, and following her ouster, Ellis declined comment on specific allegations of mismanagement. The Idaho Industrial Commission investigated the worker’s compensation aspect of the tax issue and levied no fines against the market.
What emerges through all of this is a storyline that isn’t unique to one public market. Often it takes an entrepreneur to envision and launch an enterprise. Often it takes an administrator, a detail-oriented thinker, to run a maturing enterprise.
This week, and in a very public and awkward manner, the market’s board began the search for just such an administrator. In the process, the fact that Ellis launched the market became an aside.
“She’s a great visionary, and that’s why the market started and became what it became,” board member Kurtis Williams told the Statesman. “But, essentially, we needed a better business person, a business manager ... and she just couldn’t perform that duty.”
Perhaps, indeed, a manager is what the market needs. Meanwhile, what Ellis deserves is a round of thanks.