Here's a draft of our Wednesday editorial:
How’s this for running politics like a business?
Flush with Super Tuesday fever, but not exactly flush with cash, Ada County Republicans decide nonetheless that they want to hold a presidential caucus unlike any other. They plan to hold one single caucus in a county of 400,000 people — an event, with 9,000 participants, that goes down as the biggest caucus of the year.
Of course, there aren’t many venues big enough to host such a shindig, so the GOP logically settles on Boise State University’s Taco Bell Arena. But inexplicably, Republicans don’t sign a contract upfront with BSU.
Then, the costs went up — from an original estimate of $10,000 to $12,000 to $31,198, plus $3,953 for parking.
Only then did the GOP decide it was time to do some hard bargaining. As county GOP treasurer Darrel McRoberts told the Associated Press, “What we’re hoping, too, is that somebody can convince BSU, somebody at the Board of Education that’s got some pull there, to say, ‘Hey, why’d you do that to the Republican Party?’”
He’s kidding, right?
Say this for local GOP brass: What they lack in savvy, they make up for with nerve.
It may be a news flash to the local GOP — what with this whole one-party rule thing going on in our state — but Taco Bell Arena is not a Republican resource, but a public resource.
As a public institution (as opposed to a Republican institution), BSU has to recoup its expenses when it rents out a facility. The university shouldn’t be making sweetheart deals with any political party. Even though Republicans have all the muscle — those State Board of Education members, for example, serve at the pleasure of GOP Gov. Butch Otter — the suggestion that Republicans should strongarm themselves a discount is galling.
Republicans are grumbling, in part, because Barack Obama’s 2008 speech at Taco Bell Arena set back Democrats only $12,959. However, there’s a considerable difference between the Obama speech, a five-hour event, and the GOP caucus, a 14-hour event held four years later. BSU says it’s difficult to compare these two very different events, and we agree.
However, there is also a big difference between a $10,000 to $12,000 estimate and a bill exceeding $35,000. The university needs to recoup its additional costs, such as $6,000 for equipment and $2,750 for cleanup, but these bills shouldn’t have caught the Republicans off-guard. Clearly, the communication between the GOP and BSU could have been better.
But as the renter, the Republican Party bears responsibility for making its deal upfront and getting it in writing. After all, isn’t that how it’s done in the business world?