April 17, 2015

The Coeur d’Alene Deception: Councilman Gookin Responds

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:53 am

Investigations-FactsOpenCdA’s post on April 13, 2015, titled The Coeur d’Alene Deception questioned the legality of the City’s planned use of approximately $925,000 of the proposed $6 million public safety bond for police expenditures, mostly equipment.

We pointed out that Idaho Code § 50-1019 identifies very specifically which municipal expenditures are permitted to be funded by bond proceeds.   Based on the explicit wording of subsection 6 of Idaho Code § 50-1019, we did not question the legality of any of the proposed bond’s expenditures which would be used exclusively by the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department.

However, we pointed out that nowhere does that section of Idaho Code make any specific or even implied reference to bonding for police expenditures.   Given the permission is granted to not only the fire departments but also other specifically-named municipal departments and functions (hospitals, cemeteries, public parks, monuments, recreation facilities, libraries,  aviation facilities, flood control, transit systems, and zoos), we conclude that for whatever reasons, the Legislature appears to have intended to explicitly deny municipalities permission to use bond proceeds for police expenditures.   The statute makes no references to vague possible associations using such terms as “public safety” or “joint use.”

We put our concerns in an email to Coeur d’Alene City Councilmen Dan Gookin and Steve Adams on April 11, 2015.  We simply asked, “What is the statutory authority for having the bond proceeds used for anything except the Fire Department?”  We have received no response from Councilman Adams, however Councilman Gookin responded in his comment appended to our original post.

We will comment on some of Councilman Gookin’s bullet points. (more…)

April 13, 2015

The Coeur d’Alene Deception

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:14 pm

Investigations-FactsIt appears to OpenCdA that the May 19 Coeur d’Alene $6 million, 10-year public safety bond election to fund capital expenditures for the police and fire departments violates Idaho law.

Idaho Code § 50-1019 explicitly identifies which municipal expenditures are permitted to be funded by bond proceeds.  Fire departments are included in that well-defined list, however the law does not even come close to including police departments.  The words “public safety” or “police” do not appear in the law.

But we’re not basing our concern on just our reading of the law.  We’re basing it also on the actions of Coeur d’Alene City Administrator Jim Hammond and his attempt to get his cronies in the Idaho Legislature to very quickly and quietly pass cover-up legislation with an “emergency” clause so the City of Coeur d’Alene could proceed to do lawfully that which the law does not permit it to do now.  (more…)

April 9, 2015

Governor Otter’s Veto of S 1011

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:08 am

gambling-games1For the reasons we offered in our posts on February 6, then on February 16, and finally on February 24, 2015,  OpenCdA applauds Governor Otter’s veto of S 1011 which, if enacted, would have repealed Idaho Code § 54-2512A.

Not surprisingly since it came out on the losing end so far, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe is screaming the loudest about the Governor’s veto.  (Addendum on 04-11-2015:  For a discussion of the timing of gubernatorial vetoes, see Cenarrusa v. Andrus, 99 Idaho 404, 582 P.2d 1082 (1978) .) (more…)

March 29, 2015

More Dishonest Idaho Officials

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 11:20 am

ignoring the law copySaturday’s Idaho Statesman newspaper reported that the Genesee, Idaho, city council got caught voting illegally by email not once, not twice, not three times, but four times during the past year.

The article reported that the city council had received training in the Idaho Open Meeting Law, so that would sure seem to make Genesee mayor Steve Odenborg a candidate for the Liar of the Year Award for his statement, “We had no intention of having any wrongdoing.”  Hey, Steve-O, violating the law is wrongdoing!  Or did those emails accidentally compose and send themselves?

Then again, this is Idaho, where no statutory violation of the public trust committed by a public official will ever be prosecuted, let alone punished.  It’s the Idaho way, don’t ya know.

Welcome to Idaho:  Esto perpetua corruptam

March 18, 2015

Arfee: Did Settlement Fix the Problem?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:19 am

sleight of handThis morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press is reporting that the Coeur d’Alene City Council agreed to an $80,000 out-of-court settlement with Craig Jones, the owner of Arfee, the dog shot and killed by a Coeur d’Alene police officer in July 2014.

The article included quotes from Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer who called the shooting “a mistake” and from Councilman Woody McEvers who seemed to conclude that money payoffs resolve everything.  Many of the online article’s commenters called for Officer Kelley to be fired.  None of them looked beyond the money settlement and asked if their solutions really solved the underlying problem.

As we suggested in our post entitled Careless Composition or Intentional Deception? on July 11 just two days after the shooting,  “… the examination of this incident must not be limited to the conduct of the officer who fired the shot.  We think it needs to go further to understand what in the officer’s mindset, supervision, and training led him to behave as he did in this incident.”

In our post on July 21, 2014, entitled Don’t Start Construction Yet…, we suggested:

The officer who fired the shot did not act in a vacuum.  The action he took on July 9 was a function of the training and supervision he had received up to the moment he pulled the trigger.  To the extent his actions were provably contrary to that training and supervision and departmental policies and practices, he was culpable.  However, to the extent his actions were a function of incomplete and conflicting training and supervision as well as unclear or imprecise policies and practices, his culpability is shared equally by several above him including his field supervisor and watch commander, the department’s training officer, the department’s command staff, the chief, the Mayor and City Council, and the Idaho Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Since then, Coeur d’Alene has hired a new police chief, Lee White.  We hope that Chief White has begun to take the steps necessary to fix the real problem as we see it.  When both line and staff police officers engage in a series of entirely inappropriate actions as happened in the Arfee shooting, one line officer’s action involving lethal force (or as Widmyer dismissed it, “a mistake”) should lead to corrective actions well up the police department’s institutional food chain.

So we ask:  As a result of the lessons learned from the Arfee shooting, what has changed in the way Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s police officers are selected, trained, and supervised?

March 15, 2015

Recent IRS Public Corruption Cases of Note

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 6:52 am


Periodically OpenCdA puts up a link to synopses of recent public corruption cases successfully prosecuted by the federal government.

Here is a link to a few successful federal prosecutions thus far in fiscal year 2015 investigated primarily by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.  Following are the headlines of those cases included.  (more…)

March 1, 2015

The Future Was Then…

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 5:54 pm

CDA Future from 2010

OpenCdA ran across this news article dated September 30, 1997.  We were also sent a copy of the flyer shown above.

It’s always interesting to look back and see who the “visionaries” were.  In this case, we would say former Coeur d’Alene City Council candidate Stan Smith had the correct vision of what was likely to happen.  We wonder if Mr. Smith is happy with the result of some of the faux-visionaries like Sandi Bloem, Deanna Goodlander, and Woody McEvers.  It looks to us as if today’s wannabe faux-visionaries like Mayor Steve Widmyer, Amy Evans, and Kiki Miller will follow in their predecessors’ footsteps, though.  We’ll change the name to Tokyo d’Alene.

February 24, 2015

One Last Chance for a Proportional Response …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 12:06 pm

gambling-games1The Senate State Affairs Committee passed S 1011 last week to repeal Idaho Code § 54-2512A which was passed in 2013 to allow pari-mutuel betting on historic horse races.  It seems likely that the House State Affairs Committee will hold some sort of hearing on the bill, possibly sometime this week.

OpenCdA watched both the Senate hearing and the floor debate on S 1011, and while we heard some passing references to  concerns we have, we did not hear some specific questions we thought should have been asked and answered.  We hope the House will ask them.  For example: (more…)

February 22, 2015

“… you are commanded to provide to the Office of Attorney General…”

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 8:56 am

slippery slopeOpenCdA’s post on February 20, 2015, entitled Now Just a Minute was based on the proposal attributed to Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon but considered by other county elected officials including Commissioners, the Prosecutor, and the Sheriff.   As reported in Friday’s Coeur d’Alene Press, Brannon suggested hiring a county public information officer to handle both public records requests and the dissemination of public information.

OpenCdA thinks this is a bad idea.   The suggestion is a convenient way to add another filter, a gatekeeper, between public records and citizens’ access to them.  It is appalling that our elected public officials do not distinguish between public records which speak for themselves and public information which uses a spokesflack to select and deliver the County’s fluff du jour in its most favorable light.

We find this suggestion particularly galling because it is appears to be directed at shutting down legitimate inquiries primarily from one person:  Kootenai County government watchdog Frank Davis.

That elected officials in Kootenai County believe a new position for one of their hand-picked cronies needs to be created just to field legitimate inquiries from one or even a few people suggests something else to us:  The community watchdogs like Frank Davis are on the right track, and they are making some past and present elected officials (and those locally who control them)  very nervous about what the Idaho Attorney General may uncover.  (more…)

February 20, 2015

Now Just A Minute

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:01 pm

Whoa Nelly!!This morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper reported that Kootenai County officials are concerned about the volume of public records requests submitted by Frank Davis of Allied Bail Bonds.  In his article headlined Kootenai County officials seek to hone information delivery to  public, skewswriter David Cole included this line, “Davis, who has a history with the county involving past lawsuits, didn’t return a message left by The Press Thursday seeking comment.”

OpenCdA has filed a fair number of requests for information under the Idaho Public Records Act.  We also agree that requests should be both concise and precise in order to get the most timely response.   But quite often “concise and precise” becomes synonymous with “foundational.”  The information pried out of the locked files of reticent officials often then points toward more information that must be part of yet another request from citizens trying to get a clear and complete picture of official conduct.

And as a result of his persistence and analysis of the information he had to often pry out of Kootenai county officials, Frank Davis has laid a substantial foundation.   Or at least the Idaho Attorney General apparently thought so.

OpenCdA has learned that on November 13, 2014, Idaho Deputy Attorney General/Special Prosecuting Attorney Brenda M. Bauges, on behalf of Paul R. Panther, DAG/Chief, Criminal Law Division, and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden issued a subpoena duces tecum to Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon directing him to produce some specific information and documents pursuant to Idaho Code § 31-2002(3). (more…)

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