October 22, 2014

Good Grief, Mike Patrick

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

Investigations-FactsIt’s no secret that OpenCdA has complete disdain for the Coeur d’Alene Press.   That’s why we regularly refer to it as a skewspaper.  A newspaper reports facts; the Press — not so much.

The latest example of the Press’s indifference to factual reporting can be found in today’s story headlined Arfee owner sues city over dog’s death.  The article by Keith Cousins states, “A Washington-based attorney for Craig Jones, owner of the dog shot and killed by Officer Dave Kelley, has filed a lawsuit seeking at least $350,000 from the city of Coeur d’Alene.

Really?  In which court has this “lawsuit” been filed?

We ask, because in contrast to the Press’s “close enough for Coeur d’Alene” version of facts, The Spokesman-Review is reporting in its story headlined Owner files $350,000 claim in police shooting of dog Arfee that Arfee’s owner Craig Jones has filed a claim, not a lawsuit.  There is a difference.  Here is a copy of the Notice of Claim filed with the City.  If the City denies or otherwise disputes Mr. Jones’ claim and if they cannot reach an agreeable settlement, then a lawsuit may be filed.

The Spokesman-Review article reported that if and when a lawsuit is filed against the City, it will likely be in federal court.  A check of PACER reveals no federal lawsuit filing by Mr. Jones, but that would be a smart move by Mr. Jones.  Our guess, however, is that the City and Mr. Jones will reach a claim settlement acceptable to both.  It will be fascinating to see if and how the Coeur d’Alene Press reports it.

October 20, 2014

Why Only Now?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 2:19 pm

Ebola_virus_emOn Wednesday, October 15, President Obama  “ordered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a ‘SWAT team’ to be ready to deploy anywhere in the country to help local healthcare systems respond to any Ebola cases.”  This according to the Los Angeles Times article headlined Obama tells CDC he wants Ebola “SWAT team” ready to go anywhere.

Then on Sunday, October 19, the Defense Department announced it “…will create a 30-person team of medical experts that could quickly leap into a region if new Ebola cases emerge in the United States, providing support for civilian doctors who lack proficiency in fighting the deadly virus.”  This was reported in the Washington Post article headlined Pentagon plans Ebola domestic response team of medical experts to aid doctors.

Why does President Obama think it is necessary to reinvent the concept of a tactical response team?  If he had competent cabinet members, he would know that it was done long ago in response to both nuclear and biological emergencies.  He already has all the tools and teams he needs. (more…)

October 19, 2014

Idaho AG Uses Lobbyists as “Conduit” for Official Directives

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:35 pm

AG WasdenOur October 8 post entitled On Direction From … Whom? revealed that Idaho’s elected county clerks do not always receive direction and guidance on implementing significant and time-sensitive legal decisions directly from Idaho’s Attorney General or Secretary of State.  It may come from a lobbying corporation, the Idaho Association of Counties, Inc.

The information prompting that post concerned us so much that we did an Idaho Public Records Law request to Kootenai County for “copies of all writings … between the Kootenai County Clerk and the Idaho Association of Counties … on the dates of October 6, 7, and 8, 2014, relating to guidance for implementing recent federal court decisions relating to same-sex marriage.”

This October 8 email from IAC Executive Director (and registered lobbyist) Dan Chadwick to Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon was among the many we received in response to our request.  This paragraph from the email is very revealing:

“The Attorney General uses IAC as a conduit for this information.  Your point about a formal document is well taken.  Therefore, we have asked the Attorney General to create a formal document advising the counties of the status of the issue once the stay is resolved.  Once that is done, we will share the document with the counties including the clerks and prosecuting attorneys  It will then be up to the count elected officials how to best address the issue.” (more…)

October 15, 2014

The “Split-Second Decision” Defense

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:42 am

WrongWayWhen a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting, some citizens will leap to the officer’s defense even before the incident has been objectively and completely investigated and the relevant facts reported.

In their uninformed zeal to publicly and loudly declare their “support” for law enforcement, those citizens will go on autopilot and invoke the sometimes-valid “split-second decision” defense.  The citizens will magnanimously proclaim, “Well, we have to cut law enforcement officers some slack, because after all, we expect them to make split-second, life-and-death decisions.  Sometimes they will make a mistake.”

Unquestionably there are times when the “split-second decision” to use lethal force is unavoidable, times when it is the only decision reasonably available to law enforcement officers.

However, chief executive law enforcement officers must have both the political courage and the leadership skills to ensure that the “split-second decision” defense is not abused, that it does not become the universal excuse.  It must never become an acceptable rationalization for encouraging or requiring their officers to take actions which may save time but are more likely to place the officers in situations requiring split-second decisions.  (more…)

October 12, 2014

Press Pads Own Story Pseudonymously

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 3:34 pm

jmowreader1Take a look at the user comment area attached to today’s Press article headlined Teen worker dies in accident at Hauser corn maze.   The screen capture above is one of the “user comments”.

Is it appropriate for a Press staff member to post pseudonymously on one of the skewspaper’s own news articles?

It immediately raises very reasonable questions:  How many other “users” are also Press staff members who comment pseudonymously to push the skewspaper’s agenda on its own news stories?   If a Press staff member wants to answer a “user” comment or clarify something in a news story, why not use his or her true name above the staff identifier?  How accepted is this practice among our region’s news media who allow online users to post comments on news stories?

October 9, 2014

Well, Well, Well …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:55 pm

BO & JoeOur October 5 post entitled First Steps in Rehab … opined that if some watchdog is going to take a seriously close look at the US Secret Service’s recent failures, “…it must objectively and critically review the interaction with and influence on Presidential protection from others who are involved in the day-to-day scheduling, travel, and living arrangements for those receiving USSS protection.   Broadly, those “others” include the White House senior and advance staff, the US military, and other federal government agencies.”

Yesterday’s Washington Post article headlined Aides knew of possible White House link to Cartagena, Colombia, prostitution scandal is a good baby step in the right direction.

The alleged conduct of White House straphanger Jonathan Dach in Cartagena in no way mitigates the seriousness of the conduct of the US Secret Service employees.  At the same time, anyone with any familiarity with human intelligence source spotting and assessing would look at Dach’s alleged conduct and, if it is verified, question whether Dach was suitable to hold any kind of position with the US government.  That could include Jonathan Dach’s present job,  “working full time in the Obama administration on a federal contract as a policy adviser in the Office on Global Women’s Issues at the State Department.”

And as the Washington Post’s article yesterday makes very clear, while the USSS and the military conducted very detailed investigations of the allegations against their respective employees, the investigation of the White House’s own advance staff, including the straphangers like Dach, could fairly be characterized as superficial and intended to deflect any embarrassing attention away from the White House.  That deflection allegedly included ordering the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General investigator “…to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

Well, well, well.  It is our guess that Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and David Nakamura may not get Presidential Christmas cards this year.

October 8, 2014

On Direction From … Whom?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 9:53 am

brannonCLERKAt about 6:30 AM today, OpenCdA spoke via telephone with Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon.  Our question was this:  Given the actions taken in the last few days by both the US Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, what guidance have Idaho’s county clerks received from the Idaho Attorney General and the Idaho Secretary of State regarding the implementation of the two courts’ directives on same-sex marriage?

The answer was shocking but given that this is Idaho, totally unsurprising.

Brannon stated that he had received no direct guidance from the Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney, the Idaho Secretary of State, or the Idaho Attorney General.  What he had received, however, were email messages from the Idaho Association of Counties, Inc., a lobbying organization.  Those messages represented that the Idaho Association of Counties was speaking for and on the authority of the Idaho Attorney General.

We then asked Brannon to cite the statutory authority of Idaho’s county clerks to take official direction to formulate administrative action from the Idaho Association of Counties, Inc.  Absent that, we asked him to cite any written directive from the Idaho Attorney General or the Idaho Secretary of State delegating that authority to the Idaho Association of Counties, Inc., a lobbying organization.  He was unaware of any such authority.

And that raises this issue:   Where have the respective officers of Idaho’s Executive Department specifically and formally directed Idaho’s county clerks to formulate policies and procedures based on  emails or other directives from the Idaho Association of Counties, Inc., a lobbying organization?   Put another way, on what legal authority would Idaho’s county clerks act solely at the direction of a lobbying organization?

It seems to OpenCdA that to the extent Idaho’s county clerks are charged with executing certain laws and court decisions, the guidance on exactly how to perform those duties should come directly to the county clerks only from either the Idaho Attorney General or the Idaho Secretary of State, possibly after consultation with the respective county prosecuting attorneys.   We believe that it would be the height of irresponsibility for Idaho’s Executive Department to rely on a lobbying organization to accurately communicate such important matters to Idaho’s county clerks.

Then again, this is Idaho …

October 5, 2014

First Steps in Rehab…

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

USSS BadgeThe US Secret Service needs to be rehabilitated.  Just as with people most needing rehab, the first step is for the USSS to openly acknowledge it really does need it.  Failing to follow that with appropriate action rather than empty words will result in repeated starts followed by repeated failures.

In fairness to the agency and its employees, the need for rehab has been evident to many people for years.   It may now have reached the point that to be successful, if it can be, the rehab must be once again involuntarily imposed as it was with what the Warren Commission and its classified subcommittees did after President Kennedy was killed.   We hope it won’t take the burial of another assassinated President or some extremely damaging and enduring national security breach to stimulate Congress and the Executive Branch, but the indicators are that the Secret Service continues its cultural resistance to needed institutional change.  (more…)

October 2, 2014

Maybe This Time …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:28 am

USSS BadgeIn a press release issued September 30, 2014, and then again in a second press release issued October 1, 2014, after the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson had been accepted, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced that he intends to introduce legislation to appoint a blue-ribbon commission or a panel of experts (depending on which press release the reader believes) to conduct a top-to-bottom examination of the US Secret Service.

And yesterday Homeland Security Secretary Jae Johnson announced that he, too, would convene a panel of experts to review the Secret Service.

Regardless of who convenes and conducts a review of the Secret Service, OpenCdA agrees that such an examination is needed.  In fact it’s years overdue. (more…)

September 28, 2014

Corruption Commission Concludes Testimony

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 1:47 pm

CorruptionEveryonePaysPublic testimony has concluded  in Quebec’s public corruption probe.

The corruption commission headed by Justice France Charbonneau was instituted in 2011 to examine the extent of corruption in the province’s construction industry and that industry’s ties with organized crime and provincial and local governments.

Evidence was presented which showed substantial and longstanding  infiltration by organized crime into the construction industry as well as the collusive and corrupt involvement of provincial and local government officials in awarding public contracts.

The most colorful and possibly most damaging testimony came from construction magnate Tony Accurso.  “His testimony provided an intimate window into the cosy [sic] relationship between Quebec political figures and businessmen who rely on public contracts for their livelihoods,” according to the story headlined Donations to Quebec Liberals the cost of doing business, Accurso tells corruption probe in the September 5, 2014,online news medium  The article’s subheadline reads “Charbonneau commission hears about illegal political donations from construction boss at heart of Quebec’s corruption scandal.”

Organized crime’s infiltration into Quebec’s construction industry was fleshed out a bit in the September 17, 2014, Daily Commercial News story headlined High profile Quebec corruption inquiry hears from last witness.   Lest we think organized crime would not be interested in infiltrating the very lucrative construction industry in the United States, the article reported that one of the Charbonneau Commission’s witnesses was former US FBI Special Agent Joseph Pistone whose testimony “… served as a primer on the Mafia’s long-standing infiltration of the construction industry.”  And then there was this article from the article dated September 3, 2014.  The article’s headline, Montreal mafia boss was a contact, construction magnate tells corruption probe, says it all.

The Charbonneau Commission is expected to issue its final report in April 2015.

Of course, the corruption of public officials to induce them to provide lucrative public contracts only happens in the Canadian Province of Quebec.  It could never happen in the State of Idaho.  It’s not as if multimillion dollar construction contracts are awarded by Idaho’s state and local governments.    And it’s not as if Idaho’s judges, prosecutors, county commissioners, sheriffs, mayors, and city councils would ever accept campaign finance contributions or other remuneration to use their discretion and influence to make sure that corruption investigations never get off the ground or to steer construction contracts toward “generous” contributors.  No, that could never happen here in Idaho or Kootenai County or Coeur d’Alene …

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