Last Friday, Mayor Dick Staples resigned from his elected position. His letter stated, “potential conflict of interest”. His son Ben Staples was in the process of being hired as the manager of the City of Bonners Ferry’s golf course (Mirror Lake). Allegedly there are four applicants. The steering committee has recommended to the City Council their approval of Ben Staples for the position.
Tuesday, October 3, 2023 at 6pm
City Hall located at 7232 Main Street
Bonners Ferry City Attorney, Andrakay Pluid stated:
“It is my opinion that, Mayor Staples’ son (or any other family member within the second degree), may not hold the golf course contract while their relative within the second degree (father, in the situation at hand), serves as mayor or a councilmember.
At this point, the Council has not been presented with recommendations from the Golf Selection Committee, but if the ultimate direction provided to staff is to enter contract negotiations with Ben Staples, my advice is/will be that the contract would have to include a termination provision that would void the contract immediately if any member of his family within the second degree were to be sworn in as mayor or council during the term of his contract.”
Cambridge dictionary defines CRONYISM as:
• An economic system in which family members and friends of government officials and business leaders are given unfair advantages in the form of jobs, loans, etc.
Timeline (public records request):
• March 28, 2023, Mayor Dick Staples attends the Golf Committee and ask the committee to add an agenda to discuss “Golf course management and transition” due to being the final year for the golf course operators (Ralph Lotspeich) last year.
• May 23, 2023, Ralph Lotspeich announced he would be retiring from the City of Bonners Ferry Mirror Lake Golf Course. Ralph stated this would be his last year.
• June 27, 2023 Dick Staples attends the Golf Committee (as a public comment). He states the committee needs to revamp the contract or do away with it. He states he would like to see this done by middle of August. The committee Chair (Steve Nelson) asked if the Mayor if he has the discretion to change the contract. They will ask the council.
• July 11, 2023 Committee Chair, Steve Nelson attends City Council meeting and proposes to form a steering committee. He then discusses three options regarding the golf course management. Then who he would like to see on the committee. The City Council engaged in a discussion. Motion passed to approve the steering committee. The members will be: Brion Poston, Gerry Ann Howllet, John Youngwirth, Anne Bonar, Ada Gardner, Dave Anderson, Bill Gutknect.
• Mayor Dick Staples submitted his resignation on Friday, September 22, 2023 stating “potential conflict of interest”.
Per City of Bonners Ferry Attorney Andrakay Pluid:
“The Council will discuss the mayoral vacancy at next Tuesday’s regular meeting, October 3rd.).”