OpenCDA

May 20, 2016

The Shakedown Begins …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 3:51 pm

cpd-station-signWith the approval of the Coeur d’Alene City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, May 3, Mayor Steve Widmyer has officially been given the go-ahead to begin soliciting donations for a water feature in Coeur d’Alene’s McEuen Park.  Widmyer and  retired Coeur d’Alene police officer Christie Wood will co-chair the fund raising.  The water feature is represented to be a police-themed memorial to deceased police sergeant Greg Moore.

Council member Dan Gookin offered this motion:  “Mr. Mayor, I would like to make a motion to approve the preliminary design and to direct the Mayor to proceed with fund raising efforts and to report back to Council when fund raising is complete.” [emphasis ours]  Council member Edinger seconded the motion.  The motion passed on a voice vote.

In his eagerness our giddy Mayor Widmyer didn’t even bother to  ask if there were any ‘nay’ votes, declaring the motion passed after only asking all those in favor to declare ‘aye’.  However, given the comments by several Council members before the vote and expressing their intention to write donation checks themselves, we doubt many of them had the inclination to fulfill their duty to constituents to seriously and publicly question the project’s merits, let alone vote against it.

McEuen is a public park built on public land.  Public funds will be spent to maintain the water feature.  OpenCdA thinks the Council acted hastily and irresponsibly.  In spite of the emotional appeal and public sentiment to honor SGT Moore, there were and are nevertheless some legitimate questions that needed to be discussed publicly at the Council meeting.  Here are some we wish had been asked. (more…)

May 18, 2016

Another Significant Public Corruption Case

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 3:42 pm

corruptionThe May 17, 2016, online edition of the Los Angeles Times is reporting another case of municipal public corruption.  This one is particularly interesting because of who it involved and the duration of the corrupt activities.  The article is headlined 7 former top officials of Beaumont charged with corruption.

Beaumont, California, is an upscale town of about 42,000 people.  It is about fifteen miles east of Riverside and a mile or so east of the intersection of US 60 and I-10 on the way to Palm Springs.  Riverside is the county seat of Riverside County.

The officials accused are all former officials of the city of Beaumont.  They include the former City Manager, former Economic Development Director, former Public Works Director, former Planning Director , former Finance Director , former City Attorney, and former Police Chief.

In spite of regular audits of the city’s financial statements, the alleged financial crimes occurred for more than two decades.  Those crimes alleged involved the sale of municipal bonds for projects handled by companies in which three of the officials had a financial interest. Prosecutors also alleged officials secured interest-free loans for friends and colleagues with taxpayer money.  There are more details in the Times newspaper article.

While public corruption crimes of this duration and scale are usually brought in federal court by federal agencies, this case was investigated by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Team.  It will likely be prosecuted in state court by the Riverside County District Attorney.

May 13, 2016

Not a Good Sign …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 1:16 pm

Like many Kootenai County residents who reside legally in Legislative District 4, OpenCda received the unsolicited campaign flyer supporting Malek, Amador, and Wolfinger.

Normally it would have gone directly from mailbox to trash can, but a quick glance at Wolfinger’s blurb revealed something very questionable reflecting on his suitability to hold the office of Sheriff.

Read the last bullet point under Wolfinger’s picture.

WolfingerWe bristle when a law enforcement officer who has sworn to uphold the law proudly implies that his opponent’s providing legal representation to a citizen accused of violating the law is somehow a black mark against his opponent.  It causes us to question how faithfully Sheriff Wolfinger executes his oath of office when it comes to protecting other Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and safeguards.

Until receiving this flyer which reveals Sheriff Wolfinger’s disdain for the right of all citizens to be represented by legal counsel, we had been inclined to hold our nose and vote for him as the least professionally unprepared candidate for Sheriff in the November election if he was on the ballot.

Sheriff Wolfinger’s disgusting campaign comment has convinced us that an undervote is an effective vote for “None of the Above” in the November general election.

May 8, 2016

Karl Marx’s Long Rumored Great-Grandaughter?

Filed under: Cartoons — Bill @ 4:01 pm

KarlHillaryMarx copy copy

Nah, Hillary’s ‘stache is better than Karl’s.

Yantis Shooting Update

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 12:09 pm

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA’s earlier posts reported the death of Council, Idaho, rancher Jack Yantis after his encounter with two Adams County, Idaho, deputy sheriffs on November 1, 2015.

The Idaho State Police was asked to investigate the incident which resulted in Yantis’s death.

On March 10, 2016, the Idaho State Police delivered the results of its investigation to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.  The AG’s office is serving as the special prosecutor.

Between March 10, 2016, and today, there have been no news releases about this incident on the AG’s office Media Center webpage.  Presumably the AG’s assessment is to determine if any state criminal charges should be filed in Yantis’s death.

Shortly after the November 1 incident, a group of Council-area citizens started a Facebook page titled “Justice for Jack“.  It has been updated fairly regularly.

May 3, 2016

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 4:12 pm

sheldonsilver-012215 copyOpenCdA’s post on December 1, 2015, titled Another Conviction for Corruption (Somewhere Else) reported the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) on federal corruption charges.

Today, May 3, 2016, Preet Bharara (D), the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Silver was sentenced to 12 years in federal prision by US District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.  US Attorney Bharara’s formal announcement contains a good explanation of the crimes proven against Silver.  It also describes the schemes and mechanisms Silver used to sell his elected position in the New York State Legislature and thereby personally enrich himself.

We had to give Silver’s defense attorneys an “E” for Effort in invoking the unofficial and undocumented Idaho Standard frequently used by prosecutors as an excuse to not charge or to plead down sentences:  “Mr. Silver has demonstrated a capacity to do a tremendous amount of good for the public. His personality, vision, and persistence have been brought to bear with great effect.   It is doubtful this Court will ever sentence a defendant with as rich a record of doing so much for others.”  (see this Washington Post article).

Boy, were Silver’s defense attorneys ever wrong.

Public officials often rely on the advice of either their own or their governing body’s legal counsel, often assuming that reliance somehow makes them immune from the law and the court.  We remind those officials of what Silver learned today:  Every federal prisoner sitting (or soon to be sitting) in a federal prison was represented and advised by legal counsel.

Hi-yo, Silver!  Away!

April 30, 2016

Take a Bow, Chuckleberriesonline.com!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 2:23 pm

good job2OpenCdA thinks that website Chuckleberriesonline.com deserves a round of public applause for its recent series of posts about Kootenai County Commissioner David Stewart.

The applause is not only for the leg work Chester and his able associates did in obtaining and analyzing public records about Commissioner Stewart’s questionable permitting of his pole barn/house.

It is also for being able to light a fire under the Coeur d’Alene Press and forcing it to do its job in the public interest for a change.  The article in Friday’s skews paper headlined Commissioner faces permit violation was pretty clearly prompted by Chuckleberriesonline’s groundwork.    Sadly, The Spokesman-Review apparently lacks the will to try some actual news reporting in Idaho again.

It’s fair for the public to wonder if there is sufficient evidence to support criminal investigation and prosecution for the apparent deception.  Hopefully the Idaho Attorney General will be asked to exercise his authority under Idaho Code § 31-2002 and make that determination.

Regardless of the state’s action or inaction, we think Chuckleberriesonline.com deserves to take a bow!

April 27, 2016

A Better Alternative

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 10:31 am

cpd-station-signYesterday’s OpenCdA post entitled Nice Sentiment, Bad Idea disagreed with the City’s plan to honor the memory of Coeur d’Alene Police Sergeant Greg Moore with an artificial “water feature” in the park by the lake. We offered an alternative.

At the April 25th Coeur d’Alene General Services Committee, both Parks and Recreation Director Bill Greenwood and Mayor Steve Widmyer evaded questions about the cost of the water feature.  From today’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article headlined  Building the thin blue line:  Proposed McEuen water feature to honor Greg Moore, we learn that “Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer wants to memorialize the officer with a $750,000, privately funded, natural waterfall feature between the confluence of trails at the Fourth Street entrance to the park.

Our opinion expressed in our April 26th post has not changed.  Now that we know the Mayor is going to personally “… hit up businesses and ask for donations as well”, we feel even stronger that $750,000 in a fund to enhance the professional performance and development of Coeur d’Alene Police Department employees (not just sworn officers) would be the better alternative.

There can be fewer genuine honors to a police officer than to have his memory and name attached to something that improves the safety and quality of professional services delivered by his fellow employees.   We’re pretty sure we know what SGT Moore’s response would be if asked, “Which would you prefer? A monument to collect pigeon poop in the park or training which might make it possible for your fellow employees to perform more professionally and safely while policing their community?”

Training and professional development help retain good employees.  Training is a strong motivator.  It builds both confidence and professional pride in their chosen occupation.  In particular, interagency training builds interagency alliances which leads to the exchange of ideas that benefit all participants and their communities.

Instead of building a water feature, we would like to see a non-profit foundation started to administer the application and continuation of the initial $750,000 the Mayor has promised to raise.  It’s goal would be to effectively increase the professional competence of Coeur d’Alene Police Department employees so no more memorials to fallen employees would ever be necessary in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

April 25, 2016

Nice Sentiment, Bad Idea

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 1:35 pm

cpd-station-signAccording to the Coeur d’Alene General Services Commission’s agenda and packet for its regularly scheduled meeting on April 25, 2016, Coeur d’Alene Parks & Recreation Director Bill Greenwood will report that the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission will recommend that General Services approve the concept and location of the McEuen Water Feature.

It is only when readers look at the drawing accompanying Greenwood’s staff report do we learn the proposed name of the water feature:

ParkProposedSitePlanSergeant Greg Moore was a Coeur d’Alene police sergeant who was shot and killed on duty in May 2015.

While OpenCdA thinks this is a nice sentiment, we also think it is a very bad idea. (more…)

April 21, 2016

Has Coeur d’Alene Turned the Corner?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:06 pm

GoodSignAfter watching the live television broadcast of the April 19, 2016, Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting, OpenCdA is cautiously hopeful that maybe Coeur d’Alene’s city government has turned the corner and veered away from  looking for ways to steer lucrative municipal contracts to cronies and benefactors.

What we saw at Tuesday night’s meeting was the most encouraging sign we’ve seen in the last 15 years or so.   We saw the Council actually follow state law.  Some did it begrudgingly, but they did it nonetheless. (more…)

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