OpenCDA

September 3, 2015

Corruption Investigation — Palm Springs Mayor

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:09 am

PSLogo copyImagine that!  In southern California the Inland Empire Public Corruption Task Force that includes the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office,  and the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office has served a search warrant at the Palm Springs, CA, city hall.

It has been alleged that Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet may have taken a walk on the shady side when he received about $200,000 from a local developer, Richard Meany.  Seems Meany was going to need to purchase some Palm Springs city property for the project, so he hired the Palm Springs mayor to consult with him on the project.   The mayor and council subsequently voted to approve the sale of the property to the developer at a questionable price .

Palm Springs is a resort city with a population of about 46,300 residents in the Coachella Valley.

Fortunately for us in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, nothing like that could ever happen here.  Mayor Steve Widmyer would never have any close ties with any local developer and then be involved in a deal for city land with that developer’s company, right?

August 26, 2015

Pardon Me… ?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:33 am

Clinton85OpacityOpenCdA wonders …

Will President Barack Obama pull a Gerald Ford and pardon Hillary Clinton for all violations of specific federal criminal laws involving the almost-certain compromise of classified information in connection with her establishing and using her private email server while she was Secretary of State?

If he does, will her quid pro quo be little more than to quietly accept disqualification from seeking or holding any office under the United States regardless of whether that office is elected or appointed?  Will she also agree to have her security clearance revoked with prejudice and agree to never seek its reinstatement, reissuance, or renewal? (more…)

August 21, 2015

Assessing the Damage to National Security

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 12:31 pm

Clinton 75opacityAs exemplified by the lede from this Wall Street Journal article on August 19, much of the national skews media have focused their questions on how much damage disclosures about the presumed compromise of Hillary Clinton’s private email server will do to her campaign for President in November 2016.

It’s a reasonable question that goes directly to the question of Clinton’s suitability to have access to national security information, a requirement to be President of the United States, but even that is one which should be further down on the list of more important questions.

In our opinion, the question that should be number one is, “Presuming that all of the emails processed through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server are now in the hands of technically competent foreign intelligence services, how much damage has been done to the national security of the United States?”

Determinations of any criminal, professional, or political liability assignable to Clinton and others entrusted to properly protect national security and other sensitive information all hinge on a full and complete answer to that question. (more…)

August 19, 2015

Berns Doesn’t Act Alone!

Berns for OpenCdaIn this morning’s editorial titled ignite cda:  Transparent as black tape,  the Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper lamented that it has yet again watched LCDC Schlockmeister Tony Berns reprise the role of the Governor in the musical Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

But Tony Berns does not act alone.  He has been empowered to be arrogant, evasive, and deceptive by the willful or ignorant actions or inactions of past and present members of the LCDC Board of Commissioners.  Here are the current Commissioners.

Berns’ sidestep dance experienced by the Press and recounted in today’s editorial sounds very similar to his response to us as detailed in our May 2007 Whitecaps blog post titled Official Ignorance.

It’s not the first time Berns has pulled the wool over the Press’s eyes.  In December 2006 Berns booted Press reporter Tom Greene from an LCDC Board meeting being held at one of the LCDC Commissioners’ homes.  Berns told Greene he had to leave the meeting because the LCDC was going into executive session.  It wasn’t.  Although the Press reported the deception in articles on December 21, 22, and 23,  an honest and competent editor and publisher would have been screaming for Berns’ head and the resignation in shame of every LCDC Commissioner who went along with it.  Patrick and Thompson didn’t scream; they whimpered.

The LCDC Board of Commissioners (or ignite cda Board of Commissioners if you prefer) have the authority to remove Berns. In our October 11, 2011, OpenCdA post titled Berns Must Go (And He Shouldn’t Go Alone)!, we called for Berns and some Commissioners to leave.  Of course, they didn’t.

In part because of the persistence of some Coeur d’Alene community watchdogs who became elected officials, notably Senator Mary Souza, Councilman Dan Gookin, and Representative Kathy Sims, the antics of Tony Berns and the inattentive cast of clowns at the LCDC/ignite cda have come to the attention of other officials in the state.  What some state officials in the past have dismissed as “just a Coeur d’Alene problem” is now being recognized as symptomatic of larger statewide issues.  In its 2015 session, the Legislature approved the formation of the Urban Renewal Interim Committee, its charge being “To undertake and complete a study of urban renewal plans and issues.”

Regardless of what the Legislature’s Urban Renewal Interim Committee recommends, we hope that Tony Berns and several Commissioners of the LCDC/ignite cda will soon be gone.  They are “underperforming“.

August 13, 2015

The Clinton Family Trie (Huang , Hsia, and Riady, Too)

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 5:56 am

Clinton 50opacityCozy associations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are nothing new for either former President Bill Clinton or his wannabe President wife Hillary.  It is only a matter of time until a few people with long memories recall the foreign financial revelations of the 1996 Clinton presidential campaign. The China connections then had little to do with dinner plates.

It was in those revelations the public first learned of the Clinton’s connections with big campaign donors like the Lippo Group’s Mochtar and James Riady who had long-time connections to a Chinese intelligence agency.

The public learned about Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie, a major fundraiser and long-time close friend of the President, who accepted a plea agreement in return for telling how he had routed illegal donations from the PRC to the Clinton Presidential Campaign.

It was in those revelations that the public learned that Los Angeles immigration consultant Maria Hsia and former Democratic National Committee official John Huang had arranged:

“At a fundraising lunch held on April 29, 1996 at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California, and attended by Vice President Gore, Buddhist monastics illegally funneled $65,000 to the DNC through ‘straw donors’ at the instigation of Hsia, a longtime fundraiser for the Vice President. When press accounts of this donation-laundering appeared, Temple officials altered and destroyed evidence to protect the Temple, Hsia, and the Vice President from embarrassment.”

Parenthetically, for those who think that America’s Indian tribes are morally above donating money to politicians to encourage the pols to stifle competition with tribal casinos, read the major heading The Indian Casino Decision.

The Clinton’s have a long history of questionable ties to the People’s Republic of China.  The PRC and its intelligence agency, the Guoanbu, have long memories and very likely meticulous records, maybe now including some emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server, of who received how much money from whom.

It has been almost 20 years since the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign finance scandal.  For most of us, that’s a long time.  For the ChiComs in the PRC, it’s the wink of an eye.

August 12, 2015

Damage to National Security?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 9:18 am

Clinton 25opacityAssuming the McClatchy reporting is accurate, former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had two documents classified TOP SECRET on her private email server in the basement of her Chappaqua, New York home.

The TOP SECRET classification means the original classifying authority certified that unauthorized disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.  TOP SECRET is the highest national security classification.

When she served as Secretary of State from 2009 until 2013, Hillary Clinton would have had original classification authority.  With that authority comes some expectations and obligations concerning the safeguarding of national security information. (more…)

August 11, 2015

Idaho Citizens Possible Spies?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:12 am

MSS-ChinaAre citizens of Idaho being targeted for potential recruitment as spies by a foreign intelligence service?

Possibly.

Our OpenCdA post on July 11 titled OPM Hack – The Real Damage briefly explained the underlying significance of the information gleaned from hacked personnel records entrusted to the US Office of Personnel Management.  The hack has been attributed to the People’s Republic of China’s intelligence service, the Guoanbu.  The information obtained in the hack would have helped the Guoanbu assess US citizens’ vulnerability to be induced to commit espionage.

Now we learn from a July 30, 2015, NBC news story headlined Exclusive:  Secret NSA Map Shows China Cyber Attacks on U.S. Targets that Idaho was one of the 48 contiguous states confirmed to have been targeted over a five year period.  Although the July 30 article uses the term “cyber attacks”, a subsequent NBC news article on August 10, 2015, entitled China Reads Emails of Top U.S. Officials uses the same map.  Since the snitched emails came from the officials’ private and not government email accounts, we can conclude the emails contained personal, very private communications about individuals’ personal behaviors and transactions.   That very private information is useful in identifying factors which could be used by an intelligence service case officer to control his agent of espionage or influence.  As Theodore Roosevelt astutely observed, “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”  So will sensitive information they may have.

For a reasonably informative, Hollywood-ized video portraying the ChiCom’s economic espionage efforts in the US, take a look at the FBI’s 36-minute YouTube production The Company Man – Protecting America’s Secrets.  It’s dramatized to make it entertaining, but it is still not a bad tutorial in how foreign intelligence services spot, assess, and attempt to recruit US citizens to provide economic intelligence.

It’s also worth reading the FBI’s July 23 web page entitled Economic Espionage – FBI Launches Nationwide Awareness Campaign.

July 13, 2015

Almost as Despicable…

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:22 am

Cost-of-Chemotherapy-2Unless you get your news only from The Spokesman-Review or the Coeur d’Alene Press, you know the story of Dr. Farid Fata, the highly-respected and revered Michigan oncologist who late last week received a 45-year prison sentence for administering poison — cancer chemotherapy — to 550 “patients” who either didn’t need it at all or needed different and often less frequent dosages.   Some of his “patients” died because of Dr. Fata’s admitted lust for money and power.

Fata’s conduct was despicable, but he had help from fellow doctors and state regulators who knew in April 2010 that what Fata was doing was harmful to his “patients” but who consciously avoided doing their professional duty to expose and stop him.  Their failure of duty was almost as despicable as Fata’s greed for money and compulsion for power and acclaim.

Nurse Angela Swantek received little encouragement after her efforts in 2010 to expose Fata’s willfully administering treatments that harmed his victims.  But OpenCdA is completely unsurprised by the State of Michigan’s unwillingness to act.  Fata was a highly-respected oncologist who had trained at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.  Why would a state regulatory agency take the time to investigate the factually-supported allegations of a “justa” (as in, “She’s just a nurse”) over that of someone who was clearly her better, in this case, a medical doctor prominent in the community?

But it’s fair to ask:  If the state of Michigan’s investigatory department, now called the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), had taken nurse Angela Swantek’s well-documented facts seriously in 2010, could the suffering and pain Fata inflicted directly on his “patients” and indirectly on their families have been stopped sooner?

OpenCdA hopes that during the inevitable civil lawsuits that will follow, the misconduct and clear failures of duty of other medical professionals and public officials will be fully and completely revealed.  Their actions and failures to act are almost as despicable as those of Dr. Farid Fata.

July 11, 2015

OPM Hack — The Real Damage

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:46 am

MSS-ChinaBy now readers probably know that Katherine Archuleta, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), resigned Friday.   Her politically-expedient “resignation” was inevitable after the compromise of sensitive information in the personnel files of at least 21.5 million present and former federal employees, files OPM is responsible for securely maintaining and storing.  The feds suspect that the Ministry of State Security of the People’s Republic of China, the Guojia Anquan Bu or Guoanbu, is behind the data breach.

Ho-hum.  We’ve heard this all before — same song, different orchestra.  This time, the amount of data swiped was huge, but so what?  Should you or I really care if the Guoanbu filched a ton of Social Security numbers from OPM?  No.  And yes.

No, because it’s doubtful the Chicoms intend to raid Social Security’s funds (Besides, Congress beat them to it years ago.)

Yes, because if the hack was committed by the Guoanbu or any other competent foreign intelligence agency, the files they got were very sensitive investigative files on applicants for US government security clearances and special accesses.  Investigative files — information uncovered during the course of an applicant’s background investigation — not just Social Security numbers.   Those files would include credible derogatory information that might reflect on the applicant’s suitability to have access to sensitive classified and special access information affecting the national security.  In most instances some of those investigative files are off-limits to even the applicant.  That’s precisely the information a foreign intelligence service would love to get its hands on when its case officers are spotting prospective Americans who might be persuaded or induced to betray the United States. (more…)

June 19, 2015

ignite cda

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:13 pm

LCDC PigThis week we learned that Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, which some affectionately refer to as The First Unregulated Bank of Idaho, will officially change its name from LCDC to “ignite cda”.

That same article from the local skews paper also reported that the LCDC/burnout board decided to spend just under $55,000 to tell the public about the change.  That reminded us of the cartoon the legendary editorial cartoonist Jimmy Barona did in 2011.  It first appeared in Mary Souza’s OpenCdA post entitled Stall Tactics in October 2011.

As far as we at OpenCdA are concerned, the LCDC can call itself ignite cda or whatever it chooses.   The result is the same:  Same pig, just a different shade of lipstick.

But, in the spirit of support your local bucket-o-cash, we think ignite cda needs a slogan.  We’d humbly suggest that as we approach  the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Watts Riots, “Burn, baby, burn!” would fit.  Or maybe we should say “Berns, baby, Berns”.

ignite cda might decide to emulate Spokane’s Pig Out in the Park, only ignite cda would call it “Flame out in McEuen Park”.

Anyone else want to suggest ways the LCDC/ignite cda can transform the pig into a beauty queen?

 

 

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