OpenCDA

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

crosshairs2[

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…)

February 16, 2015

Stop! Get It Right

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 11:52 am

gambling-games1Our OpenCdA post on February 6 urged Idaho lawmakers to Slow Down — Get It Right in deliberating Senate Bill 1011.  SB 1011, if passed and enacted, would repeal Idaho Code § 54-2512A.  When passed and enacted in 2013, I.C. § 54-2512A allowed pari-mutuel wagering on historic horse races.

On February 9 and 11, the Idaho Legislature’s Senate State Affairs Committee heard statements from 24 persons either supporting or opposing SB 1011.  Here is a link to the Legislature’s digital media archive of the February 9 session and the February 11 session.  To make it easier to more quickly locate a specific person’s statements, here is an index of speakers tied to the time stamp on each video.

After watching the videos, we think that it is not enough to say, “Slow down and get it right.”  We think it’s time to say, “Stop!  Get it right.”   (more…)

February 6, 2015

Slow Down – Get It Right

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 8:18 am

gambling-games1On Monday, February 9  the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee will receive testimony to consider repealing Idaho’s existing law which allowed pari-mutuel betting on historic horse races.  The existing law was passed and enacted in 2013.  It is clear from the votes by the Legislature that the 2013 law had substantial support.

So why is Idaho’s Legislature now considering repealing it barely two years later? (more…)

February 4, 2015

Oh, Please!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 3:19 pm

bullshitIf you haven’t read the Idaho Statesman article headlined 2014 concealed weapons law costs Idaho colleges $3.7 million, please take a few minutes and read it.  The article was written by Bill Dentzer and appeared online on February 3.

If the article can be believed, when the Idaho Legislature passed Senate Bill 1254 in the 2014 session, the presidents of the five schools mentioned in the article decided it was a license for them to go on a spending spree to upgrade their campus security programs.

Let’s be very clear:  The law did not prescribe upgraded security.  What these five college presidents did, they did on their own volition (but with your money).  Why? (more…)

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