Golf committee recommends Ben over Dick

The golf committee empaneled to interview applicants to take over management of Mirror Lake Golf Course next season after the retirement this year of Ralph Lotspeich have once again forwarded a unanimous recommendation to be considered at Tuesday’s city council meeting to give the contact to former mayor Dick Staples’ son, Ben Staples and his girlfriend, Jennifer Baulne, to run the city-owned course.

Their recommendation letter dated today and on the city council’s agenda on Tuesday provides no reasoning, saying only that two applicants were interviewed December 11. Serving on the committee are John Youngwirth, Mike Klaus, Mayor Rick Alonzo, Jimmy Dorhofer and city councilman Ron Smith.

“The selection group understands that the City Council makes the final decision on this contracted position,” they wrote. “It is the recommendation of the selection group that the city counil authorizes staff to negotiate a contract with Ben Staples and Jennifer Baulne to bring forward to City Council for final approval in January 2024.

Dick Staples, then running unopposed for a second term resigned as mayor just after 5 p.m. September 22 after an earlier committee also put forward Ben and Jennifer as their choice to manage the course, citing Idaho’s anti nepotism law. But his resignation was turned in after the deadline for withdrawing his name from consideration as a candidate had passed.

Without having his name on the ballot and without a vote being cast, Staples became mayor-elect as soon as polls closed in the November election, authorizing him to take the oath and reassume the office of Mayor on January 2.

“”It’s weird it happened when it did,” Staples said in September. “It would have been much simpler had it happened any other way.”

Taking advantage of the unique timing, the elder Staples opted to hedge his bets instead of standing firmly behind his son, saying that if Ben were offered a Mirror Lake management position and a contract signed before his swearing-in January 2, he would not take that oath.

The city council rejected the committee’s recommendation and instead opted to begin the search for a golf pro anew and appointing a new advisory committee. The names nor the total number of applicants was released publicly.

Now the city has not only to decide whether or not to accept Ben and Jennifer, but if it can draft, consider and validate a contract in time for signing just 17 days hence, including weekends and holidays.

It could have been much simpler.