OpenCDA

February 25, 2012

Coeur d’Alene’s Ministry of Disinformation

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:57 am

Explaining how the City of Coeur d’Alene could pay off the multimillion dollar wrongful termination judgment awarded to fired former police lieutenant Dan Dixon, Coeur d’Alene City Administrator Wendy Gabriel decreed in Friday’s Coeur d’Alene Press article (Cd’A to appeal court ruling) that because the City is self-insured, it would simply levy a bond on taxpayers.  The news/views/skewspaper article said, “The city could ask a judge to deem the expenditure ordinary or necessary, meaning the city could borrow the money without voter approval, which is usually required when municipalities take on debt.”

That line from the article is factually inaccurate.  Moreover, the article omits some very important information the voter-taxpayers need to know. 

“The city could ask a judge to deem the expenditure ordinary or necessary, …”  is factually inaccurate because it uses the conjunction “or” rather than “and.”  Article VIII, Section 3 of the Idaho Constitution  states, in part:

Section 3.Limitations on county and municipal indebtedness. No county, city, board of education, or school district, or other subdivision of the state, shall incur any indebtedness, or liability, in any manner, or for any purpose, exceeding in that year, the income and revenue provided for it for such year, without the assent of two-thirds of the qualified electors thereof voting at an election to be held for that purpose, …

… Provided, that this section shall not be construed to apply to the ordinary and necessary expenses authorized by the general laws of the state …

The conjunction “and” requires both be present to satisfy the Court.  “Or” would mean either by itself could satisfy the Court.  Words matter in understanding the Constitution and law and the intent of those who wrote them.

This constitutional provision is codified in Idaho Code, Title 7, Chapter 13 – Judicial Confirmation.  It was the procedure defined in this title and chapter of Idaho Code to which Gabriel was referring when the article’s writer quoted her saying, “That’s an option for sure.  The law is pretty clear, from what I’ve seen, that judges view judgments as ordinary and necessary expenditures.”

What Gabriel and the Press neglected to include in the article was that citizens are allowed to be part of the judicial confirmation process.  Look carefully at the procedural steps defined in Idaho Code § 7-1304.  Judicial approval is not the slam-dunk Gabriel and the Press would have you believe.  The City will have to file a petition with the District Court, but according to the law, that filing cannot occur until after the petition has:

“… been authorized by the governing body having adopted a resolution or ordinance authorizing such filing after conducting a public hearing as defined in subsection (3) of this section.

In other words, Gabriel and the City can’t just waltz up to their favorite District Court Judge and say, “Here.  We want this.  Sign this order declaring what we want to do to be ordinary and necessary.”  First, the City must hold a public hearing.  Now granted, in Coeur d’Alene, public hearings like this are shams.  The Mayor and at least three members of the City Council could not care less what the people really think.  But they’ve still got to follow the process before their favorite District Court Judge rubber stamps their project.

Why is this public hearing especially important in this particular case?  Because now there are at least two City Councilmen (Dan Gookin and Steve Adams) who seem to respect and want to follow the Idaho Constitution and state law.  Gookin and Adams would be likely to want a full and open discussion about the City’s police department internal workings that resulted in this multimillion dollar judgment.  After all, the City is asking for the authority to collect even more money from the taxpayers.  The taxpayers are entitled to know the details behind what happened that precipitated this request.

Here’s something else from Idaho Code, § 7-1304 Gabriel and the Press withheld from you:

Any person may make a request for notice of all meetings of the governing body of a political subdivision at which a public hearing will be held to consider a resolution or ordinance authorizing the filing of a petition described in subsection (1) of this section, by submitting to the governing body a written request for notice, which request shall be valid until December 31 of the year in which it was filed. The governing body of the political subdivision shall send a notice by certified mail to all persons who have requested notice, to the address provided in the request for notice, at least fourteen (14) days before the public hearing will be held, informing them of the time and place of the public hearing which will be held to consider the resolution or ordinance authorizing the filing of the petition. [emphasis added]

“Any person” means any person.  That’s you; that’s me; that’s your friends and neighbors.  The law does not explicitly limit “any person” to those who are residents of the political subdivision or upon whom the additional tax would be levied.

My suggestion is for everyone to immediately send a letter to the Mayor of Coeur d’Alene requesting that we receive notice as required by law of these hearings.

But here’s the other shoe in Idaho Code § 7-1304:

A petition or judgment approving a petition shall not be defective for failure to strictly comply with this notice provision if compliance with the notice requirement is substantial and in good faith.

Given the propensity of our City government to avoid complying with the law when compliance might jeopardize their desired outcome, it would be wise for interested parties to send the letters but also watch and listen to other sources such as the newspaper legal listings.

To get some idea of how a petition for judicial confirmation was considered by a competent District Court Judge, see “Case No. CVOC0202395D – Decision Denying Petition” by Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Cheri C. Copsey, dated August 26, 2002.

Please write to the Mayor and request notification so you can attend the statutorily-required public hearing at which the City of Coeur d’Alene will rubber-stamp its approval to request judicial confirmation to pick your pockets (again) for several million dollars.  You might also want to consider writing or emailing the editor and publisher of the Coeur d’Alene Press and suggesting the public interest would be better served if their reporters wrote complete stories rather than withholding information the public needs to make informed evaluations of public policy and officials’ performance.

 

165 Comments

  1. MMMmmmmkayeee…. Since the abbreviated conclusion was too hurtful for Johnny let’s go with the long version.

    “Federal court assesses a $3,700,000.00 penalty against the city of CdA finding the city guilty of wrongful termination.”

    …..but the state statute limits awards to $500,000.00….

    Yes, thank you for this information. But you do understand that this is a FEDERAL court judgement, NOT a state court.

    …..but the state statute limits awards to $500,000.00…..

    Yes, you said that before. But this is not a state court. This is why the plaintiffs attorney went to federal court.

    ….but the state statute limits awards to $500,000.00 so that is all we have to plan for……

    No, John and Gridley, et al, if you get sued in federal court they use federal guidelines. They do not go by state award limits.

    ….but the state statute limits awards to $500,000.00 and so we’re gonna appeal to a federal appeals court…..

    That’s another federal court John, Gridley, etc, etc…..

    ….but the state statute limits awards to $500,000.00…….

    John is your nose on the front of your face?

    ….um, yes, that’s obvious….. …..but the state statute limits awards to $500,000.00…. I am not lying. Can’t you read for comprehension?

    Whatever you say John. Gosh I sure hope you’re not in charge of anything important.

    Comment by Wallypog — March 1, 2012 @ 5:18 am

  2. Wally, that is mean. Using someone’s own words like that. Shame wally (can I call you wally?), shame! What next, actual facts?

    Comment by Pariah — March 1, 2012 @ 6:25 am

  3. An insider at the city told me the total is likely to be between $4 – 5 Million.

    Comment by mary — March 1, 2012 @ 8:53 am

  4. Its too bad that no one from the city chooses to join in the discussion. They all seem to have a direct line to Ollie’s blog. Perhaps the blog masters should cut and paste the portions of these comments that are constructive and send it to the mayor/gridley. Otherwise, “How about them Yankees!”

    Comment by Joe Six-Pack — March 1, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  5. Unless the venue is perceived as friendly, the PTB generally avoid online forums. Passing odd but they seem unable to stand public scrutiny.

    Comment by justinian — March 1, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  6. BREAKING – From a very trusted source of RTC, Mayor Condon [not source] has fired City Attorney Howard Delaney. KXLY’s newsroom is trying to confirm this announcement.

    Comment by justinian — March 1, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  7. Someone ought to send the message if confirmed to Her Sandiness.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — March 1, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  8. Joe Six Pack, the problem is that on OpenCdA we ask questions that might make them uncomfortable. Real questions about specific details of their job. We have informed, intelligent readers and commenters who know a lot about the city. Olivera’s blog never questions them and always attacks anyone who does. It’s a safe and soft forum for them.

    Comment by mary — March 1, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  9. Confirmed. The new CA will be a BANKRUPTCY specialist.

    Comment by justinian — March 1, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

  10. Justinian,

    Can you make some specific connection between the actions of Spokane’s new mayor and what is going on (or failing to) in Coeur d’Alene? Is there a clear connection?

    Comment by Bill — March 1, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  11. Direct? No, but like CDA and the Spokane Valley, elections created turnover that changed the power structure. CDA would be wise to pay attention to what is going on around them.

    Comment by justinian — March 1, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  12. Like AC above, I think Her LongNecked Sandiness could take lessons from the new, young Mayor of Spokane. Firing Gridley would not solve all of the issues in the City by the Lake, but it would be a good start.

    Comment by Pariah — March 1, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  13. Okay. I thought that was where you were going, but just wanted to be sure. In December 2005 Spokane held a recall election and recalled its mayor, Jim West. There was a letter to the editor in Sunday’s Press urging a recall election in Coeur d’Alene.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Bill — March 1, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

  14. Oooh, please post that letter as a standalone thread, please?

    Comment by Pariah — March 1, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

  15. Pariah,

    Done.

    Comment by Bill — March 1, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

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