When unprecedented deviation from the customary rules and laws written to guide the annexation process has been engineered behind closed doors along with the ultimate outcome, an inexcusable betrayal of the public trust has occurred. The fix is in. The deceitful pretense of even conducting meetings in this completely corrupted process disrespects citizens and is an insult to the community. 

Attorneys are trained to persuade others either that something that happened didn’t or, conversely, that something that didn’t happen did. The two attorneys promoting this ill-advised, special-interest agenda have apparently persuaded the Hailey City Council that a really bad idea is a good one. Perhaps someone on the council has an undisclosed vested interest as well. Though rendered completely irrelevant, an overwhelming majority of citizens provided highly informed comment in opposition to this clumsy, unprofessional, knee-jerk, corrupt circumvention of process and absolute farce. Support was virtually nonexistent.

Let us not forget that these same two attorneys completely bungled the Old Cutters annexation. They failed to require that all fees be paid up front. They failed to secure the city of Hailey’s financial position with an inter-creditor agreement, standard practice in the event of a default on payment, which occurred. They failed with associated litigation. They failed with an appeal, all costing the city millions. So do they now believe this cart-before-the-horse, “Let’s annex first then figure out all the future financial liabilities and impacts later” is going to end up anywhere but the courtroom? Perhaps that is exactly where they want it; taxpayers are footing the bill, and they have been richly rewarded for their incompetence in the past.

The extreme financial risks presented by this proposal are unacceptable. The costs attached to future upgrades of our roads and sewage infrastructure are unknown, and doubtless massive. The city’s financial position was so enormously undervalued in negotiations with Quigley Farm that I have serious questions as to the motivations of those representing the city, because no one honestly negotiating in the best interests of Hailey and its taxpaying citizens would sell them so short.

With the assistance of the mayor and city attorney, real estate interests driving the agenda for three decades in the north valley are now promulgating their taxpayer-subsidized, development paradigm in Hailey. Hailey has a massive surplus of existing residential potential on the east side, and significant commercial potential downtown. Violating the intent of two comprehensive plans by intentionally adding substantially to this excess of supply is simply more “foolishness” from City Hall, abandoning free-market principles influenced by demand, for blatant good-ol’-boy cronyism to provide a bailout for a friend’s failed real estate investment at the expense of taxpaying property owners in Hailey.

The hypocrisy of expressing concern over workforce housing while promoting an agenda with the potential to tax fixed-income and low-income working residents in Hailey out of their homes is not surprising, given the complete detachment from reality consistently exhibited at City Hall. This foolhardy agenda throws many working citizens of Hailey under the bus and will result in the same hollowing and conversion of workforce housing that occurred in Ketchum, not the preferred destiny of Hailey.

Abandoning rule of law and due process is a cowardly abuse of power by the mayor. I challenge him to put a referendum on a ballot this autumn, simply “Annex Quigley Farm, yes or no.” If he refuses to do so, every assertion I have ever made regarding the corruption of him, the city attorney and this entire city-initiated annexation process is validated as completely accurate. What he fears most is the truth and democratic principles, preferring the false narratives supplied by the sycophants that surround him.

William F. Hughes lives in Hailey.

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