OpenCDA

May 23, 2015

Price Fixing Case – It Cost All of U$

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:21 pm

price-fixing-cartoonThis past week the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that four multinational banks had recently agreed to plead guilty to felony antitrust violations and pay criminal fines and penalties approaching $3 billion.  A fifth bank agreed to plead guilty and pay a $203 million criminal penalty for breaking the non-prosecution agreement it entered in December 2012  regarding manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR – a benchmark interest rate used worldwide.

Simply put, these five banks agreed to plead guilty to manipulating the interest rates that nearly every consumer has to pay when we borrow money for mortgages, car loans, college loans, business loans, etc. (more…)

May 20, 2015

Another Federal Case in Coeur d’Alene

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:16 am

puzzled2By now you may have heard that on May, 19, 2015, a former employee of the Red Robin Restaurant in Riverstone filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was wrongfully terminated by that restaurant chain after she objected to the firing of one employee and the rejection of an applicant because they were “of color”.

Here is a link to the federal complaint filed by plaintiff Stacie Ward against Red Robin International, Inc.  The case was filed in federal district court and assigned case number 2:15-cv-00168-JVL.  Ward alleges in the complaint that “The [Coeur d’Alene Red Robin store ] General Manager Reed Faucet (wrongfully) terminated Stacie for cause on or about October 27, 2012.  Also present at Stacie’s termination was Alicia DiAgastino, the Assistant General Manager, and by information and belief, Ms. DiAgastino is now General Manager of the Coeur d’Alene store.”

Ward’s complaint states precisely the language allegedly used by the Riverstone Red Robin store’s Assistant General Manager.  It also states her allegations of “retaliation and harassment by the management” against Ward.

The complaint informs readers that “Stacie filed a complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission/EEOC.  The EEOC conducted its investigation, and found probable cause that Red Robin had retaliated against her and issued its Right To Sue letter on February 26, 2015.”

Ward’s legal counsel is Douglas A. Pierce of James, Vernon & Weeks, P.A. in Coeur d’Alene.

OpenCdA wonders why the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations has not vocally and visibly protested the allegations of racial discrimination by one of Coeur d’Alene’s local businesses.   This case would certainly generate the publicity and attention that group usually seeks for itself and the City of Coeur d’Alene.  What could the reason be?

May 15, 2015

“Cheated”

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:33 pm

CheatedCoverIf you have an interest in ensuring that the tax dollars you provide to your local colleges and universities are not going to support academic fraud, read Jay Smith’s and Mary Willingham’s book “Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports“.

Your first inclination may be to say, “Well, the UNC scandal was at a major school, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  And it’s got a major megabucks athletic program.  We’re in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and we only have a dinky community college.”

But when you read the book, you may well conclude otherwise.   “Cheated” educates readers to understand how academic frauds not only occur in our institutions of higher (or not) learning but also how the frauds can be created or promoted by elected boards of trustees, hired administrators, faculty, and staff.  Initially, the motivation for propagating the frauds is to bring in money for the college or university.   Never mind the message that sends to the “student”-athletes and to the honest students who work diligently to earn their degrees honestly.

“Cheated” is not an easy read.  Smith and Willingham are academics, and their writing style is informative and instructional rather than entertaining.  Still, it is worth reading.  It is an eyeopener, a reminder to the people that those whom they elect or appoint to run their colleges and universities and educate their students are not necessarily acting in the best interests of the students they purport to be educating.  The public needs to be less trusting and pay more attention.

But “It’s Not Just About Technology”

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 9:01 am

surveryingtargetSay the phrase “law enforcement technology” to many people and ask them to respond with associated words and phrases.  You will very likely hear “body cameras,” “DNA,” “CSI,” “Breathalyzer,” “drones,” and “computers.”  You can probably come up with others.

But those responses are not “law enforcement technology;” they are examples of technology that have been adapted and adopted by law enforcement (well, all except “CSI” which is a dramatization of technology application specialists).

The public rarely has a serious opportunity to read a report that adequately portrays the challenges law enforcement administrators face in evaluating, selecting, and applying technology and in writing policies and practices to ensure consistency and legality in its application.  Even more rarely does the public have an opportunity to look into the future of law enforcement administration and see the challenges 21st century chief executive law enforcement officers will face in the social and cultural environment in which they will be expected to operate.  Here’s that opportunity.

In July 2014 the Rand Corporation conducted a workshop which sought “… to explore future visions of law enforcement and identify and prioritize needs in technology, policy, and practice based on those visions.  Participants consisted of a diverse group of law enforcement practitioners from municipal, state, and federal  law enforcement organizations and representatives from academic institutions.”   The Rand workshop produced a 102-page report  entitled Visions of Law Enforcement Technology in the Period 2024-2034 — Report of the Law Enforcement Futuring Workshop.

But contrary to the report’s title, the workshop and its report were not just about technology.  In fact, specific technologies were mentioned peripherally, and usually then only as examples.  (more…)

May 13, 2015

What’s In A Name?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 11:50 am

HookervilleOpenCdA was amused to hear that the Spokane City Council got its knickers in a knot when one of Spokane’s community members used the term “Bridge to Hookerville” once too often in public comments.  The clever characterization refers to a pedestrian bridge intended to connect the north side of Spokane’s University District with the other side of the tracks, East Sprague Avenue.

However, we must admit being a bit confused.  We thought that “Bridge to Hookerville” referred to the vehicular bridge over Idaho’s U.S. 95 which connects Spokane’s back door (WA S.R. 278/ID S.R. 58) to the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel on the Coeur d’Alene Tribe reservation just north of Worley.    Readers will understand our confusion after reading the addresses of the “who got busted” list in the link.

May 3, 2015

Special Assistant US Attorney Program – Coeur d’Alene

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:48 am

RTSUSAO118Item 2 of the agenda for the joint Kootenai County Commissioners – Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting on May 4, 2015, reads, “2.  SAUSA Program (Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney) – Commissioner Green.”

OpenCdA wonders how many people in our area know anything about Idaho’s existing participation in the SAUSA Program?  For that matter, we wonder how many people here know much about the overall jurisdiction, authority, duties and responsibilities of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho?

We think some public discussion of this proposal would be beneficial to all.  (more…)

May 2, 2015

Coeur d’Alene to Propose Parking Ordinance Changes

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:24 am

changing the rulesThe City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, proposes to amend its city code regarding parking facilities.

Coeur d’Alene residents should take the time to understand how the proposed ordinance amendments will affect them.

Here’s a hint:  Get your checkbooks out. (more…)

April 27, 2015

April 25 Awards

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 8:17 am

awardsApril 25, 2015, should possibly be designated as “Idaho Journalism Awards Day.”  There were two equally meaningful and important sets of awards given out then.

The first was the Idaho Press Club Best of 2014 Annual Awards, and the second was the Max Dalton Open Government Award. (more…)

April 17, 2015

The Coeur d’Alene Deception: Councilman Gookin Responds

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:53 am

Investigations-FactsOpenCdA’s post on April 13, 2015, titled The Coeur d’Alene Deception questioned the legality of the City’s planned use of approximately $925,000 of the proposed $6 million public safety bond for police expenditures, mostly equipment.

We pointed out that Idaho Code § 50-1019 identifies very specifically which municipal expenditures are permitted to be funded by bond proceeds.   Based on the explicit wording of subsection 6 of Idaho Code § 50-1019, we did not question the legality of any of the proposed bond’s expenditures which would be used exclusively by the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department.

However, we pointed out that nowhere does that section of Idaho Code make any specific or even implied reference to bonding for police expenditures.   Given the permission is granted to not only the fire departments but also other specifically-named municipal departments and functions (hospitals, cemeteries, public parks, monuments, recreation facilities, libraries,  aviation facilities, flood control, transit systems, and zoos), we conclude that for whatever reasons, the Legislature appears to have intended to explicitly deny municipalities permission to use bond proceeds for police expenditures.   The statute makes no references to vague possible associations using such terms as “public safety” or “joint use.”

We put our concerns in an email to Coeur d’Alene City Councilmen Dan Gookin and Steve Adams on April 11, 2015.  We simply asked, “What is the statutory authority for having the bond proceeds used for anything except the Fire Department?”  We have received no response from Councilman Adams, however Councilman Gookin responded in his comment appended to our original post.

We will comment on some of Councilman Gookin’s bullet points. (more…)

April 13, 2015

The Coeur d’Alene Deception

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:14 pm

Investigations-FactsIt appears to OpenCdA that the May 19 Coeur d’Alene $6 million, 10-year public safety bond election to fund capital expenditures for the police and fire departments violates Idaho law.

Idaho Code § 50-1019 explicitly identifies which municipal expenditures are permitted to be funded by bond proceeds.  Fire departments are included in that well-defined list, however the law does not even come close to including police departments.  The words “public safety” or “police” do not appear in the law.

But we’re not basing our concern on just our reading of the law.  We’re basing it also on the actions of Coeur d’Alene City Administrator Jim Hammond and his attempt to get his cronies in the Idaho Legislature to very quickly and quietly pass cover-up legislation with an “emergency” clause so the City of Coeur d’Alene could proceed to do lawfully that which the law does not permit it to do now.  (more…)

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