November 12, 2015

It Takes Time …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:23 am

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA’s earlier posts about the death of Council rancher Jack Yantis after his encounter with two Adams County deputy sheriffs on November 1 tried to explain that thorough investigations take time.

Here is a press release issued today by the Idaho State Police concerning an unrelated officer-involved incident in Middleton in March.  It gives readers some insight into just how long officer-involved death investigations can take.

Thoroughness and clarity trumps speed.

Addendum on 11-12-2015 at 12:26 p.m.:  Here is the Idaho Statesman’s reporting on the press conference.  It  includes a segment of the video and audio from the deputy’s body-worn camera/mic.

November 11, 2015

A Commendable Effort

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 11:59 am

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA thinks that Idaho’s Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman deserves a sincere thank you from the 300 or so people who attended a town hall meeting in Council on Tuesday night — even if they strongly disagreed with him.

The purpose of the town hall meeting was to let the public directly and personally question Sheriff Zollman about the incident involving two of his deputies and Council rancher Jack Yantis on November 1.  During that incident, Mr. Yantis was killed.

The investigation of the incident is being conducted by the Idaho State Police.  The Idaho Attorney General’s Office has agreed to serve as a special prosecutor at the request of the Adams County Prosecuting Attorney.   (more…)

November 9, 2015

Disturbing News Story from Southern Idaho

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:21 am

19117510-mmmainJack Yantis, a rancher who lived near Council, Idaho, was shot and killed on the evening of November 1, 2015, during an incident involving two Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies.  The initial report was in a November 2 Idaho State Police press release.

Though this story has received comparatively little coverage from our northern Idaho skews media, there have been several stories in the Idaho Statesman.  It includes this one on November 7 headlined Idaho rancher’s wife:  ‘I saw them murder my husband’. (more…)

November 6, 2015

Irony or Arrogance?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 11:35 am

Davis81 copyReading a Spokesman-Review post this morning captioned Idaho lawmakers to undergo ‘civil discourse’ training this year, OpenCdA did a double-take on this line:

“Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis,  R-Idaho Falls, asked that the Legislature contact the Idaho State Bar and pre-qualify the session as ethics training for continuing legal education credit, for lawmakers who are attorneys.”

So ol’ Bart, an attorney from Idaho Falls who will just happen to be in Boise on the public’s dime serving as a legislator when the course will be given free to legislators, wants the public to pay for his continuing legal education training credit course in ethics.

So ol’ Bart thinks its ethical for legislators to accept a freebie that would cost a pretty penny for non-legislator attorneys.    We think Bart Davis definitely needs to take an ethics course or several — at his own expense, not the public’s.

An Afterthought on 11-08-15 at 3:45 p.m.:   The more I think about this proposed training for our legislators, the less relevant it sounds.  Certainly courtesy and civility are desirable, but our legislators are generally of an age that if they haven’t picked up those traits by now after decades of living and interacting, should we really expect a half-day charm school to develop them at this stage of their lives?  Are there not possibly more pressing ethical issues to be addressed?

Fraudulent Steering

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:50 am

barbara-byrd-bennett copy“Fraudulent steering” has nothing to do with automobile recalls.

It has everything to do with a dishonest Chicago Public Schools (CPS) official, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was the putative decision-maker in deciding which two education consulting companies would get a $23 million no-bid contract to provide consulting services to CPS.

One of Babs’ criteria for fraudulently steering the contract to the companies was evidently how much they would be willing to kick back to her in return.   The kickback netted her a cool $2.3 million.

And now the FBI is looking closely at what Babs did as the Chief Accountability Officer in the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) before she went CPS.  The allegation filed in federal court is that she fraudulently steered a DPS textbook contract worth $40 million to a publishing house, Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, where she had formerly worked.

For an interesting take on Babs’ bribery, see the article headlined Blaming Byrd-Bennett won’t end CPS corruption in The Depaulia, the student newspaper of DePaul University.

Contracts do get steered to preferred vendors and suppliers.  A red flag the size of a large empty hole in the ground  should start waving when a contract is worth a lot of money and is awarded to a sole-source without honest competitive bidding.   It’s a form of bid-rigging.

Fortunately, it only happens in Chicago or Detroit or Atlanta or …  But it could never happen in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

November 3, 2015

That FARA Way Look

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

MSS-China-CRIThe US Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are looking at California businessman James Su’s company, G&E Studio Inc. to determine if the company is violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).

Su’s company is in West Covina, CA, just east of Los Angeles.  Federal law prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a station license for a U.S. broadcast station.   Su’s company does not own any radio stations, however it leases two 50,000 watt “blowtorch” stations, one that blankets the Washington, DC, area from suburban Virginia and one in Philadelphia.   Additionally, his company provides nearly all the program content to stations in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Portland, Las Vegas, Dallas/TJ, northern California, and Hawaii.  The program content is produced in his West Covina studio and by China Radio International, the Chi-Com state run radio system.

Su and his company are being scrutinized by DoJ because the FARA requires that anyone inside the US seeking to influence American policy or public opinion on behalf of a foreign government or group must register with the US DoJ as a foreign agent.  Neither Su nor his companies are registered as Chi-Com agents.  Su contends he is not violating US law because his and the CRI programs are run on radio stations his company leases but does not own.

For a very detailed examination of CRI’s operations, see the Reuters November 2, 2015, article headlined Exposed — China’s covert global radio network airs China-friendly news across Washington, and the world.

October 27, 2015

Late to the Party

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:50 am

EDITBOARDYep.  Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper publisher Jim Thompson and editor Mike Patrick certainly appear to OpenCdA to be waaaaay late to the urban renewal agency examination party.

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, the Press editorial was entitled Another urban renewal question mark.

The Press editorial board editorially questioned the wisdom of the city’s urban renewal agency, ignite cda and its executive director tony berns-o-matic, giving $15,000 of the public’s money to an enterprise in which Coeur d’Alene City Councilman Kiki Miller has a significant interest.

We’re cautiously encouraged to see the Press show signs of awakening from its journalistic lethargy and start paying closer attention to what an unelected body of handpicked cronies have been inflicting on the city using other people’s (your taxpayer) money .  However don’t you wonder why the Press didn’t report this information as news over a year ago when it floated to the surface at the LCDC meetings on October 15, 2014 (beginning at page 5, item 6.B.)  and November 19, 2014 (beginning at page 4, item 7.A.)?  Why now editorially rather than a year ago when it would have been news? (more…)

October 24, 2015

Interesting Rumor

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:50 pm

TheRumorMillOpenCdA has been told that District 4-A Representative Luke Malek’s wife Tara has moved to southern Idaho to accept a position with the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.  We’ve also been told, however, that while the position is technically with Canyon County, she will serve a three year term as the Special Assistant US Attorney (SAUSA) to the Treasure Valley Partnership.  We have received no reply to our email requesting the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney confirm or refute this.

We have also been told that rather than resign his position as state representative, Luke Malek will remain in Coeur d’Alene until his term  expires.  Obviously if he moves out of his district, he could not run for re-election.  (Well, he could move to Canada which would allow him to say he still resides in Coeur d’Alene, but …)

As the title says, this is just an interesting rumor.

ADDENDUM 10-26-2015, 9:48 AM:  An email this morning from the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office confirmed that Tara Malek has replaced Chris Atwood as the gang and guns Special Assistant US Attorney.

In Search of Facts, Part 2

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 11:59 am

JustTheFactsAn initial investigation by the KCSO after the incident revealed that alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the death. However, reports in the community began to swirl that alcohol was indeed involved. The coroner’s findings confirms those reports.

That paragraph from today’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article headlined Report:  Alcohol related to teen’s death completely and convincingly validates the Reggie Nault family’s reasoning for engaging professional, objective, qualified legal counsel to evaluate the results of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) investigation into the young man’s unattended death.

That paragraph from reporter Brian Walker’s article sent chills up our spine.   Please read it again.  Carefully. (more…)

October 20, 2015

In Search of Facts

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:37 pm

JustTheFactsAccording to Tuesday’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article headlined Nault’s family still seeks answers, some family members of deceased Coeur d’Alene High School student Reggie Nault have engaged an attorney to monitor the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department investigation into his death.

OpenCdA sympathetically but loudly commends the young man’s family for engaging an attorney to represent them in their efforts to learn the facts leading or contributing to his death.

When someone dies as this young man did and the facts of his death are slow in coming, family and friends are deeply emotionally involved.  That very understandable emotional involvement can sometimes lead to clouded judgements.  In this instance, the young man’s family seems to have recognized that they would be comforted by having a professional and competent advocate evaluate the information unemotionally and objectively as it comes in.   The family properly and wisely engaged an attorney to represent them in seeking and evaluating the results of the investigation.

To some, the family’s engaging an attorney looks like the prelude to a wrongful death action.

To others, engaging an attorney looks like the family is dissatisfied with the progress of the investigation.

Both perspectives have some merit, and both validate the family’s taking exactly the action it did.

As OpenCdA has often said, the Kootenai County justice rug has become lumpier and lumpier as incidents have been swept under it.  By engaging an attorney to monitor the investigation of Reggie Nault’s death and evaluate the results of that investigation, the young man’s family is honoring his life by using his death to keep a trained and watchful eye on those who might be tempted to lift the rug’s edge and sweep again.  The facts are the facts, and they will not change.

There can be no genuinely good outcome when a young person dies prematurely.  The closest thing to a comforting outcome is that the person’s family hopes others will learn from the facts of his death and use what they learn to help themselves and others avoid similar outcomes.

We think the Nault family’s action toward that end is honorable and commendable.

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