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McLean pushes back on criticism of transition report: ‘these are not policy documents’

Lauren McLean
Posted at 4:36 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 18:36:18-04

BOISE, Idaho — This article was originally written by Don Day with BoiseDev.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said a report from a citizens panel that got significant attention in recent days won’t necessarily guide her priories during her first term.

The report, titled “A More Equitable City for Everyone” is one of six reports made by committees McLean formed to provide her with ideas on how the city should move forward.

“It was important to assemble a group of citizens from all walks of life, all areas of town and organize themselves into six different committees,” McLean said.

The reports hit the city’s website earlier this spring and attracted little notice until a post last week on the Boise Guardian. The Equitable City report included a long laundry list of ideas, ranging from the cancelation of rent and mortgages during COVID, ceasing arrests and bookings into the county jail, providing city-wide free Internet, providing pre-K through 12th-grade sex education and many others. Many of the ideas go far beyond the traditional scope of city government.

‘Things a city can’t do’

“There are things a city just can’t do,” McLean said. “These are not policy documents – they are reports to my administration. There were 350 recommendations across those six reports. I wanted the public to see what I had seen and the diversity of thought and opinion in our community.”

McLean singled out the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which called the report a ‘socialist wish list’ in an interview with the Idaho Statesman.

“This is the most alarming public policy document ever produced by a government entity in Idaho in the 25 years I’ve been doing this work,” Hoffman told Idaho Statesman reporter Hayley Harding. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it in its scope and audacity.”

“I’m disappointed that one subcommittee in my transition report was singled out by an advocacy group,” she said. “I’ve said I want to be transparent in the information I receive, and respect and honor the work of 72 volunteers and the hard work in their transition reports. The Idaho Freedom Foundation picked up one report of six. They are dividing our community at a time we need to come together around economic recovery and deep and serious challenges we have. That’s my focus and the focus of our city.”

McLean said a pair of city staffers listed as committee members served to help provide committee members information on what the city under former Mayor Dave Bieter did to help inform the discussion.

McLean: Budget presentation outlines priorities

BoiseDev asked how citizen can know what in the reports she plans to focus on and supports, and which items she doesn’t

McLean said citizens can understand her priorities based on the budget presentation her staff outlined to the city council during a meeting this week. Those projects include affordable housing, clean energy and incremental efforts on diversity and inclusion.

“I have said this clearly from the beginning that after many years of not having an opportunity to come in and make suggestions to the city, I would accept (the transition suggestions), release them, then recognize it was my job to decide what action was appropriate,” she said.

“I think the challenge is that people have taken one or two lines from a fringe group and then believed that the rest is true. When you single report out of context you lose what 72 people put into recommendations.”