The following Op-Ed was submitted by the group Conservatives of Meridian. Note: Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Idaho Dispatch.
When we first started on this journey we had no idea we would stir up such a hornet’s nest. Our goal has always been to see principled conservative leaders in office. That has and will continue to be our focus.
This last week, one of our incumbent councilmen posted a hit piece against us on social media. This piece was written by a local developer who has donated heavily to all three incumbent’s campaigns. Recently, the comments from Councilman Bernt and other establishment Republicans have become more personal and vitriolic.
We have attempted to answer these inaccurate and misleading charges gently, but the attacks against us, and the church that lets us use their building, have continued to get worse. Even the most gentle of approaches to try and tone down the negative campaign have failed with us being accused of lying.
We have three main issues we are seeking to address:
• The Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity (SOGI) ordinance, which allows biological males in women’s public facilities
• Unplanned and uninhibited growth without increasing infrastructure
• The need for more transparency from city hall.
In 2018, the city passed the SOGI ordinance against the will of the people. The vast majority of the people who testified were against it, with over 75% of the people in attendance opposing its passage. The city ignored the will of the people and passed the ordinance anyway.
The city continues to approve multiple high density housing projects. While housing and growth are necessary, the city has ignored our infrastructure needs and continues to green light multiple projects that put more of a burden on our schools, police, and fire departments. Not only that, the Council changed the rules on building heights just to be able green light these projects. We need better planning on growth and our current city council does not seem inclined to change course.
Our final issue is increased transparency on how development contracts are awarded. We are asking for this because of the following incident.
Some time ago we were given information by someone inside city hall that there were some actions that would be unethical at best, but certainly embarrassing to many people in elected positions. Because we have only had one witness and no other corroborating evidence, we elected not to use this information as any sort of campaign issue.
What surprised us was Councilman Bernt’s and Josh Evarts’ over-the-top reactions to our endorsements of their opponents. This have given us great cause for concern. What really caught our attention was the coordinated efforts between the city councilman and his donor. I sent an email to Treg Bernt from one of my more private addresses attempting to tone down the vitriol of the campaign. Not only was his reply more accusations, but within a very short time Josh Evarts was sending email to me at that same private email account. This action suggests a level of coordination between Bernt and Evarts that goes beyond what should happen between a land developer and a sitting city council member.
We are not accusing any one of bribery or taking payoffs and we never have. We are saying, however, there is enough cause for us to ask for further investigation. This has only been highlighted by the fact that Josh Evarts and Treg Bernt have worked together to attack us in such a coordinated fashion. Any reasonable person would become suspicious if the main source of attack on a political group is from one of your major donors,.
We are now calling for a full and complete audit of how city contracts are awarded. This must be done by an outside and independent agency. Only a full audit can restore our confidence in the fairness of how contracts are awarded by City Hall.
It’s time for all conservatives in Meridian to begin to call the Mayor’s office and respectfully ask that the city bring in an outside agency to audit the decision making process.
Tags: Bernt, Conservatives of Meridian, Meridian, Republican, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, SOGI, Transparency