OpenCDA

December 16, 2014

Airport Workshop Agenda Update

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

COEIn part because of the dismissal of former Coeur d’Alene Airport manager Greg Delavan, the Coeur d’Alene Airport has attracted considerably more public interest lately.

Here is what was originally posted by the Kootenai County Board of County Commissioners for the agenda of the Special Meeting – Airport Master Plan Workshop.

However, here is a more detailed and updated version of the meeting agenda.   The date and time remain the same, but note the room change at the County Administration Building.  The meeting will now be on the ground floor, Meeting Room 1 A/B.  The new room is larger, so that suggests a larger audience is expected.

OpenCdA attended a similar meeting in that room on November 4, and the sound reinforcement was completely inadequate.  We hope the organizers of Wednesday’s meeting have a decent sound system so the audience and participants will be able to hear.  We presume that this is still an open public meeting.

December 10, 2014

Special Prosecutor – The Time Has Come

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

Foster parents arrestedCOE-3-RMargin copyOpenCdA believes that it is time for a special prosecuting attorney from far beyond Kootenai County to investigate the administration and management of Coeur d’Alene Airport (COE).  But we also believe that any prosecutor should have the courage and horsepower to go where the evidence leads him (or her), even if it goes beyond the borders of the airport to the County Administration Building or the Public Safety Building.

As we have reported in several preceding OpenCdA posts, the firing of longtime airport manager Greg Delavan prompted an outpouring of support for him from local aircraft owners and operators as well as from local businesses who see COE as playing an important role in the region’s economy.  His loyal supporters were often equally outspoken in opposition to the two Kootenai County Commissioners (Green and Tondee) who decided in an illegal meeting to fire him.

Constrained by several factors, Commissioners Green and Tondee were unable to publicly disclose exactly what led to Delavan’s firing.   Unfortunately, they didn’t help clarify the issue when they admitted making the decision to fire him in an executive session board meeting, a flagrant violation of Idaho’s Open Meeting Law.  As a result, the interested public was left with the impression that there may have been no valid reason for Delavan’s firing.

And then this article headlined Audit reveals bad billing appeared in the local skewspaper, the Coeur d’Alene Press on November 14, 2014.   The article suggested there may have been valid reasons for firing Delavan.  Online comments appended to some of the skewspaper’s articles reporting Delavan’s firing reinforced that suggestion. (more…)

December 5, 2014

AG-Nominee Lynch Senate Questionnaire

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:43 am

Lynch copy[

OpenCdA’s November 18, 2014, post entitled Confirm Loretta E. Lynch — Soon! informed readers that Lynch would be required to complete a detailed questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee in preparation for her confirmation hearings.  We promised that when it became available, we would post Lynch’s completed questionnaire and her answers here.

Here is the Senate Judiciary Committee’s 56-page questionnaire with Attorney General nominee Loretta E. Lynch Hargrove’s answers.

November 22, 2014

Finally!!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 9:31 am

PoliticalCorruption

OpenCdA hopes that every single one of our half-dozen or so readers has read Idaho State Representative Judy Boyle‘s guest opinion piece entitled Is Idaho as corrupt as Washington, D.C.?  It was in the November 19, 2014, Coeur d’Alene Press.

Finally!!  Finally a state-level elected official in Idaho has the courage to publicly speak out about what many of us have observed for years.  There is public corruption at the state, county, and city levels of Idaho government.  If only it stopped there, but unfortunately it doesn’t.  It is also among some in the administration and elected officials in some Idaho school systems including universities, colleges, community colleges, and primary and secondary schools.

The question is, will the public be willing to stand alongside and behind those honest public officials at all levels who genuinely want to expose corruption and demand that offenders not only be removed from positions of public trust but prosecuted as well?   That’s where it gets a little dicier.  (more…)

November 21, 2014

Public Record Denied (If It Ever Existed)

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 8:06 am

Date:On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, at 9:00 A.M., OpenCdA hand-delivered an Idaho Public Records Law request to the Kootenai County Board of County Commissioners office.  The cover sheet is shown left, and here is the detailed request attached to it.

Our request for routinely kept records required by law has been presumptively denied.

To simply outline the underlying issue prompting our request:   Kootenai County Commissioners Green and Tondee had stated publicly that their decision to fire Coeur d’Alene Airport (COE) Manager Greg Delavan on or about October 24, 2014, had been made in an executive session during a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.  Commissioner Nelson had stated she was aware of the meeting but had not taken part in it.  Our OpenCdA post entitled Wrong Answer, Commissioner Green on November 4 explained why we believed the Commissioners’ firing of Delavan on or about October 24 violated the Idaho Open Meeting Law.  Our November 5 public record request sought the statutorily-required agendas and meeting minutes which would either confirm or refute the truthfulness of the Commissioners’ assertions and the legality of the meeting(s) in which the decision was made to fire Delavan on or about October 24.

On November 7 OpenCdA received this email from Kootenai County Commissioners Administrative Assistant Nancy A. Jones.

The Idaho Public Records Law provides that employees of a public agency are allowed to determine that a longer period of time is needed to locate or retrieve information, but the agency is still required to grant or deny the request in whole or in part withing 10 working days following the request (see I.C. § 9-339(1)).

The “10 working days” period for our November 5 public records request expired on Thursday, November 20, 2014 (we did not count November 5 or Veteran’s Day, November 11, in our day count) .  We have received no further information from the Commissioners after Ms. Jones’  November 7 email. Thus, our request for some records (agendas, minutes) which are or should be routinely kept by the Kootenai County Board of County Commissioners has been presumptively denied (see I.C. § 9-339(2)). 

The sole remedy provided to us by law (see I.C. § 9-343(1)) “…is to institute proceedings in the district court of the county where the records or some part thereof are located, to compel the public agency or independent public body corporate and politic to make the information available for public inspection in accordance with the provisions of sections 9-337 through 9-348, Idaho Code.”

A source whom we believe to be reporting accurately has told us the records we seek cannot be located because they do not exist.  If that is accurate, then pursuing them with a costly court action would be pointless.  It would also be pointless, because as OpenCdA has reported before, the 2009 session of the Idaho Legislature gutted the protections afforded citizens by the Idaho Open Meeting Law.

At the behest of the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and with the support and participation of various lobbying organizations and news media, many of Idaho’s 2009 legislators knowingly sought to deprive Idaho’s citizens of the ability to learn how their elected and appointed officials conduct public business behind closed doors.  Again, follow this link and notice who in the Senate and House voted “aye” in favor of hiding unlawful government actions from the public view and who voted “nay” against it.

The “cure” embedded in the revised Idaho Open Meeting Law should cause citizens to unofficially refer to the Idaho Open Meeting Law as the “Catch Me If You Can” Public Officials Protection Act of 2009.

November 19, 2014

A Tale of Two (Skews) Stories

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:23 pm

ysursa copyIn this Spokesman-Review skewspaper story, departing (but not soon enough) Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa just can’t seem to figure out why Idaho’s voters aren’t turning out for elections.

Then in this Idaho Statesman skewspaper story, we learn that a substantial amount of Idaho’s legislation which would-be voters believed was being thoughtfully and carefully written by Idaho’s citizen legislators elected to represent us is actually written by lawyer-lobbyists paid to write laws that help the people paying them rather than those electing the citizen legislators.

Gee, Ben, ya think there just might be a connection?  Ya think that maybe Idaho’s voters are smarter than you and your cronies in Boise thought?  Ya think that maybe we figured out that our legislators are more influenced by the people who make large campaign donations and by lobbyists who can sit in their offices and buy them off-the-book meals when they’re in Boise?  Of course, those lobbyists are only providing useful “information” to the citizen legislators, right Ben?

Here’s another thought, Ben.  As you leave office with the accolades and departure gifts from your cronies in the Boise area, understand that you won’t be missed by Idaho’s citizens who hope for honest and truly representative government in Idaho.  Not for a nanosecond.

November 18, 2014

Confirm Loretta E. Lynch — Soon!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:13 am

Lynch copyOpenCdA hopes that Loretta E. Lynch will soon be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and then the full Senate to be the next Attorney General of the United States.  She is currently serving as the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  Lynch has a strong record of criminal prosecutions in public corruption, civil rights, and white collar crime cases, but she is perceived to be less an ideologue than her predecessor Eric Holder.   She is not particularly close to President Obama and was not his first choice to replace Holder.  She currently chairs the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee which represents the voice of the U.S. Attorneys and provides advice and counsel to the Attorney General on policy, management and operational issues impacting the Offices of the U.S. Attorneys.

We hope that if confirmed as Holder’s successor, Lynch would encourage President Obama to quickly replace the US Attorney for the District of Idaho (Wendy J. Olson) with one who mirrors Lynch’s own commitment, competence, and experience in prosecuting public corruption and white collar crime cases.   Hopefully a Lynch recommendation for Idaho would be an aggressive, experienced go-getter on his or her way up rather than someone trying to transition into a retirement position with an Idaho law firm.  We would prefer she recommend a US Attorney replacement from outside Idaho, although that would certainly deviate from protocol and rankle Idaho’s Congressional delegation.

Before too long, Lynch will complete a Senate Judiciary Questionnaire for Non-Judicial Nominees and submit it to the Senate Judiciary Committee to use in preparing for Lynch’s confirmation hearing.  As an example of the kinds of information sought from Lynch, here is the Questionnaire submitted by Elena Kagan when she was nominated to be President Obama’s Solicitor General in 2009.

Lynch’s questionnaire responses are public record, so they will be posted on OpenCdA when they become available.

November 17, 2014

What’s Missing Here?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:08 am

CDAPDLOGO-2OpenCdA sees that Lee White, the newly hired Coeur d’Alene police chief, is accepting applications from citizens willing to serve on the City’s Use of Force Review Board.  The City will authorize two qualified citizens to serve on the Board.

The public information suggests the citizens on the Board will receive “information on basic law enforcement training as well as case law as it pertains to use of force, what constitutes excessive force, and police policies and procedures.”  That makes sense.

But noticeably absent from the citizens’ training syllabus is how to recognize the methods and techniques that some law enforcement officers and agencies use to cover and conceal excessive force from use of force review boards and the public.  We think that training needs to be included, and the City of Coeur d’Alene need look no further than Spokane attorney Breean Beggs to provide it.  It was Beggs’ and the Center for Justice’s tireless efforts that kept the homicide of Otto Zehm by Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson in the public eye in spite of efforts by the Spokane Police Department to cover for Thompson’s criminal actions.

Or the City of Coeur d’Alene could invite Hayden attorney Larry Beck to be a guest lecturer.  It was Beck who successfully represented former CdAPD Lieutenant Dan Dixon in his federal lawsuit against the City for constructive discharge; violation of substantive due process rights in employment; breach of employment contract; negligence in investigation and termination of employment; inadequate training and supervision of city employees; and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

We have been told that citizens on the Coeur d’Alene Use of Force Review Board will be required to sign some sort of confidentiality agreement.  If so, we wonder how that squares with Chief White’s statement that, “Citizens serving in this capacity will increase transparency, accountability, and public input into police operations.”   Given the City of Coeur d’Alene’s historic inclination to ensure that its various committees and commissions are packed with headnodders and that honest citizens on them are marginalized and sometimes removed for daring to seek and expose the facts rather than parrot the party line, we are skeptical.  Maybe this time the City will prove our skepticism to be unfounded.

 

November 16, 2014

Mary Souza’s Newsletter – 11-16-2014

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:44 pm

11-16-2014 Souza's newsletter (more…)

November 11, 2014

Free Advice

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 12:13 pm

Tondee copyHere’s some free advice for Kootenai County Commissioners-elect Marc Eberlein and David Stewart:  Wait until after you have been sworn in to become further involved in the mess that Commissioner Green, outgoing Commissioner Tondee, and Airport Director (or not…) Greg Delavan have created.

This morning’s skewspaper (the Coeur d’Alene Press) article headlined Commissioners discuss airport hiring process includes this line:  “Nelson said the commissioners heard from the two newly elected county commissioners last week, who informed them that – barring any glaring misdeeds in his personnel file – they plan to reinstate former airport manager Greg Delavan in January once they take office.”

If the horse named “Glaring Misdeeds” ever existed, it has already died at the hands of Commissioners Green and Tondee.  If Green and Tondee and Nelson had evidence of “glaring misdeeds” sufficient to justify or even just strongly support Delavan’s termination, we’re reasonably sure the County’s Human Resources Department and the Commissioners’ legal adviser would have helped them through the proper process to achieve a lawful remedy.   Of course, that assumes the Commissioners sought help.  Instead, it appears that they decided to shortcut the process and knowingly violate the Idaho Open Meeting Law to achieve their desired result. (more…)

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