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City of Boise threatens Meridian business with fine, jail, or both over masks

City of Boise threatens Meridian business with fine, jail, or both over masks

Matt Tobeck
December 9, 2020

Boise government officials, apparently not content with threatening its own businesses to obey Covid-19 health orders, are now bullying businesses outside its city limits. 

The city sent a letter to Independence Indoor Shooting, a gun store and shooting range in Meridian, threatening the business with fines and jail time. The letter’s existence was first reported on 670 KBOI’s Nate Shelman Show and on the Idaho Dispatch. 

The Dec. 1 letter says the city of Boise had received “a complaint from the public that your business, Independence Indoor Shooting, was in violation of a current COVID-19 Emergency Health Orders issued by state or local entities.” 

“A subsequent complaint to the City of your business failing to comply with current emergency health orders may result in an investigation of your business by law enforcement,” the letter continues. “If an investigation of your business reveals noncompliance with emergency health orders, the business owner, the business staff, or your patrons may be cited for a criminal misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or both” under Boise City Code.” 

The obvious question here is: What the hell is the city of Boise doing threatening a business in Meridian? 

One might chalk it up to a simple mistake. After all, the letter is essentially a form letter, with the name of business added as a fill-in-the-blank in a document. But then again, someone in City Hall had to enter the business name and street address, which appears at the top of the letter. You’d think the word “Meridian” in the address block might have been a dead giveaway. 

It’s most likely, then, that someone in city government figured they’re within their rights — and their power — to say and do whatever they want relative to threatening a business anywhere, so long as it is in the interest of public safety. After all, it just costs the city government a stamp and an envelope. This letter is concerning, then, because it opens up the possibility of additional letters arriving in the hands of a business outside the jurisdiction of Boise, or that the city has appointed itself an enforcer of Covid-19 policy beyond its borders, responding to complaints wherever they may be. 

A polite suggestion for Boise city officials going forward would be this: If someone complains about a business not located in your city, ignore it. Tell the complainant it’s none of the city’s concern what’s happening in Meridian, Star, Nampa, or Miami, for that matter. Sadly, this letter seems to send a clear message that Boise’s government is not willing to be constrained by mere city limits in its pursuit of its own brand of Covid-19 justice.

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