OpenCDA

March 28, 2012

Mary Souza’s Newsletter

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 4:52 pm

Loyalty Oath?

Remember all those years of frustration watching the CdA City Council sitting up at their high desk, nodding their heads in agreement with almost every vote, while the common folk sat silently below?  I always wondered why nearly every decision was unanimous.  Well now the reason has become clear.

Our City has what is akin to a Loyalty Oath!  It’s part of every new council member’s paperwork and they are asked to sign it.  I’m not kidding.  Lucky for us that our two new city council members, Dan Gookin and Steve Adams, refused to sign it because they realized their loyalty is to the people, not other government officials. 

In order to put the “Loyalty Oath” in perspective, I asked some city administration and council folks from nearby towns if they have ever seen  anything like this document.  They were all shocked.  They said they had never heard of such a thing, and that city councils are elected by the people and are not beholden to the mayor or any other city official. City Council members are responsible to the citizens.

The official title of the document is “Coeur d’Alene City Council Standards and Norms”. It has 24 points and begins almost every one of them with the pledge “I will…”  All of the points initially sound warm and fuzzy and kumbaya, but some made me choke with the obvious hypocrisy of the city’s behavior and some scared the bejeebers out of me.

Let’s start with the hypocritical:

“I will tell the truth.” That would be fabulous. But how about these past statements the city has made: There will be no taxpayer money used for this project. You’ll never have to pay anything more for the new library if you just pass the bond.  We’ll sell the old library to help pay for the new one.  And the list could go on and on.

“I will be accountable.” To whom? To certain power players and close friends? The mayor and half the council refuse to listen to the people and ignore citizen requests for a public vote.  But they support and endorse LCDC and back room deals like the one in Midtown that uses taxpayer money to enrich a developer rather than improve the neighborhood.

“I will listen with an open mind and make every effort to understand an issue before I come to a conclusion.” I wish this were true. But now, with two new members, questions are finally flying. In the past. the council rarely asked questions, especially about controversial issues.  Like when LCDC gave presentations. Or when the council quickly approved $3 Million dollars to fill the Kroc pit, even though the previous estimate had been only $1 Million, and not one of them asked a single question. Perhaps their conclusions were reached before the meetings even began.

Ok, enough of that, I could fill another page with more, but let’s get on to the scary part:

“I will participate in and contribute to the council’s goals, decisions and progress while working toward consensus.”  Ah, yes, there’s that well worn word “consensus”.  Mayor Bloem loves it. Just nod your heads, all together.  Please remember, dear readers, that these independently elected city council members were individually chosen by the voters to represent the citizens. They are not children in an elementary classroom. They do not have to always agree.

“I will be a sounding board for guidance to my assigned Department Head consistent with the Council’s vision as a whole.”  The council’s vision…as a whole.  What if an independently elected council member, representing the citizens, does not agree with that vision?  Must they still walk in lock-step? Vote in unison?

“I will acknowledge and support the City Administrator’s authority to make decisions.”  This one is very curious.  Why ask elected city council members to pledge loyalty to the City Administrator?  They are her boss!

[Addendum:  For those who expressed an interest, here is the 24-item "Coeur d'Alene City Council Standards and Norms" list I received.  Although this is undated, the signature block shows that Reid and Wolfinger were on the Council at that time.]

The “Loyalty Oath” is unique to CdA and seems to have been created during Mayor Bloem’s administration.  It is the kind of “group think” and misplaced allegiance we must stop.  It’s little wonder the Mayor and council have been ignoring the will of the people. We don’t seem to matter.  Let me once again leave you with one of my favorite quotes, which seems especially pertinent right now:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead, the celebrated anthropologist who studied civilizations and cultures all over the world

101 Comments

  1. So elected councilmen agreed (until Dan and Steve refused) to cede some of their authority and autonomy to the Mayor and part-time City Administrator?

    It’s alarming, though certainly not surprising, that any present and previous council members would agree to such conditions. Obviously they did or the practice would have been gone long before now.

    If the Mayor and City Administrator and City Attorney believe such a demand can be imposed on elected council members, I have little doubt that City department heads could have been required to agree to something similar. So why should we not be concerned that Police Chief Wayne Longo and his captains Childers and Clark and maybe his lieutenants and sergeants might follow an order to harass citizens seen to be enemies of the Mayor and City Administrator?

    Why should we not be concerned that the City Engineer Gordon Dobler might slant findings to favor one engineering company over another or engage in other bid-rigging practices favoring certain contractors?

    Why should we not be concerned that City Administrator Wendy Gabriel’s Fire Chief husband Kenny might tell his BCs and station captains to respond just a little slower to certain addresses?

    Why should we not be concerned that City entities such as the Art Commission might be encouraged to favor awarding large art contracts to family members of county officials who are in a position to influence the re-election of “preferred” council members over those who might blow the whistle on dishonest city practices?

    Why should we not believe that the Mayor might not appoint one or more people to the McEuen Steering Committee in return for a “donation” of several thousand dollars to the Mayor’s favorite (for now) project?

    Among the various frightening aspects of this practice is that those council members who have acceded to it have also succumbed to the culture of intimidation. They are so ignorant and cowardly that they have betrayed the trust and confidence of every person who voted for them.

    Comment by Bill — March 28, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

  2. Brings back memories when newly elected Woody started asking too me questions and former council member Dixie took him outside following a public meeting, and gave him her “what fors” while pointing her finger at him and getting into his face. Woody quickly fell into line.

    The City is very big into team work. If you don’t want to be part of their team, then you will lose your job. These are the reasons why the city went through so many administrators until they promoted their childhood sweetheart.

    Comment by LTR — March 28, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  3. is there a chance that the ‘cda city council standards and norms’ could be posted in it’s entirety? sounds like it would be a lovely read!

    Comment by murphyk — March 28, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  4. Who does the mayor think she is?

    Comment by Ancientemplar — March 28, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

  5. Sweet! Could Mary or Dan/Steve ask to see any ‘oath’ signed by the city attorney and assistant city attorney. How about department heads? I am wondering (actually at this precise moment I am wondering where I put my six-pack–a ‘little’ ADD problem)…if it might just require them to do whatever ‘so and so’ tells them, regardless. Even such an ‘oath’ doesn’t (oh there it is) it would be interesting to see what those ‘oaths’ say. What kind of Jim Jones cult is this down there anyway?

    Comment by Joe Six-Pack — March 28, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

  6. “I will participate in and contribute to the council’s goals,…” might explain the dogged determination of the council to claim the election was fair and Kennedy elected?

    Comment by Joe Six-Pack — March 28, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

  7. The oath to the citizens required of elected officials, to uphold the laws and constitution of the State of Idaho is enough of a challenge. Nothing about group think in that oath. So disgusting, these arrogant elites.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — March 28, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

  8. 18 U.S.C. § 241 : US Code – Section 241: Conspiracy against rights

    If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth,
    Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; …

    Now if only Idaho had a US Attorney with guts!

    Comment by Pariah — March 29, 2012 @ 5:26 am

  9. I have seen similar attitudes in industry. It is called organizational or corporate behavior. Its intent is to anchor a foundation of what these people have shown: Solidarity in thinking and in purpose. Of course for duly elected people this type of redirected allegiance is at least hypocritical and perhaps not legal. Their loyalty is to the oath of office and nothing should alter that especially not from their public duty-bound colleagues. This is a subversive oath. The question begs, how many times has this oath been cited as these people have done their public duties? Was Edinger reminded about this Oath when he balked at the McEuen schemes? Has he been punished in any way for not behaving accordingly?

    Comment by Wallypog — March 29, 2012 @ 6:01 am

  10. Been thinking. If under these written rules any performance improprieties have been fostered or enforced one term comes to mind, RICO. This group is no longer a group of independent elected officials making individual choices based upon personal views. They are ORGANIZED. They are led and they are directed. Think Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. Think Al Capone.

    Comment by Wallypog — March 29, 2012 @ 6:37 am

  11. Joe Six-Pack,

    RE your comment #6: Remember city trial attorney Haman’s comment about the Council acting as the Board of Canvass simply “rubber stamping” the election results? When the Council members signed the agreement, they got their official rubber stamp. And of course the “council’s goals” were to ensure the incumbents were all reseated, so not challenging then-County Clerk Dan English’s failure to fulfill the terms of the City-County contract (particularly those pesky references to complying with all the election laws) was completely consistent with those goals.

    Comment by Bill — March 29, 2012 @ 6:46 am

  12. This is just disgusting.

    Comment by concerned citizen — March 29, 2012 @ 6:52 am

  13. I highly doubt that the cdapress will bring this to light where the rest of the citizens of CdA can see that they are being bamboozled.

    Comment by concerned citizen — March 29, 2012 @ 6:54 am

  14. I went to the Association of Idaho Cities website hoping to find some template for the City’s loyalty oath. I found nothing like that but did come across the Roles & Responsibilities Manual. It is interesting reading and does a good job of outlining the roles and responsibilities of a city’s mayor, city council, city clerk, city treasurer, and city attorney.

    Comment by Bill — March 29, 2012 @ 7:29 am

  15. Rico and other conspiracy statutes make for very interesting cases. Assuming a Grand Jury looked at what has gone on and finds a crime or a series of crimes, this odd “loyalty oath” combined with any emails between the parties could be damning. Just my opinion. Just.

    Comment by justinian — March 29, 2012 @ 7:30 am

  16. The City changed their policies placing department heads under renewable contracts over a period of several years (not all at once). At that time, I thought this is one way to tighten the reins on management through negotiations even after being employed for numerous years.

    Comment by LTR — March 29, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  17. And anybody is surprised by this because…….

    Comment by rochereau — March 29, 2012 @ 8:51 am

  18. To give the Mayor and City Council benefit of the doubt – the “oath” reads like it was intended to add clarity and direction to a job description of a city councilman and/or mayor. Whether the “oath” has any standing in a court of law is highly suspect, but at the same time, just try to glean from the entire body of Idaho Statute (I.C.) the Duties, Powers, and Responsibilities of an elected councilperson–it is a monumental task that I doubt few elected City or County officilal have ever attempted.

    What any reasonable person or even a smart attorney with decades of experience will find from I.C. is that the job of the Mayor, a City Councilman, or County Commissioner for that matter, is largely up to what the individual defines as his or her “job” as he or she goes along (OJT). Sure, they are all required to uphold the State Consitution, and by referance the U.S. Constitution but I have found it is a rare breed for any of our local politicians who have even read (let alone understand) even these basic requisite principles that are supposed to define their “job.”

    It is obvious that the City’s “oath” is frequently violated, abused, or simply ignored: It’s just a nice piece of paper with little bark and no teeth; a framed wall-hanger in a lobby for decoration. I think that either of two actions should be taken: 1) motion to repeal the “oath” because it’s rarely followed and has no standing and as such gives a false sense of trust and hope, or, 2) propose a re-writing of the “oath” in a manner that gives the “oath” legally defensible teeth if violated. More than likely, the later would require wholesale amendments to I.C. so perhaps the best line of defense is to publically acknowlege that the “oath” is just ink-marks on paper.

    Comment by old dog — March 29, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

  19. When a person determines to become gang member their loyalty is bound by their word and often emblazoned into their flesh by tattoo. What earnest was behind asking elected officials to assign their loyalty to this oath? Why was this allegiance written and expected in the first place? They were elected to serve in public office, not a clique or society or trust fund or holding company. This oath is not separate from their duty but seems to define and direct that duty. And it is NOT a duty to the electorate or state or federal rules. Problematic and troubling.

    Comment by Wallypog — March 29, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  20. I don’t think the Loyalty Oath is legally binding, but it certainly reveals the attitude and thought pattern of the Mayor. She wants control. She wants all Department Heads and City Council members to fall in line with her goals and her vision.

    All of the points on the document seem like good things, until you put it in the context of the Mayor asking independently elected people to actually sign, pledging they will follow it.

    The only oath they should be loyal to is their sworn oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the State of Idaho.

    That Idaho Constitution, by the way, says the Mayor is only to run the meetings and manage administrative items. The Mayor is not to make policy. Only the City Council can make policy. It seems to be backward in CdA right now.

    Comment by mary — March 29, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  21. With Mary’s okay, I inserted a link to the complete list commenter murphyk requested in comment #3. The Addendum is near the end of the original post.

    Comment by Bill — March 29, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  22. I check back from now and then…hoping…for John A to comment. Where is he? Certainly with his vast experience in cda gubbermit he has some insight.

    Comment by Joe Six-Pack — March 29, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

  23. Johnny be posting at some other site. A place where never is heard a discouraging word, and the sky is not cloudy all day. Where rainbow sparkle ponies and leftist Utopians share their crystal visions. Where the Pretty People admire each others’ beauty, intellect and over all desirability.

    Comment by Pariah — March 29, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  24. Joe, I never had the pleasure of working for Mayor Bloem so I don’t know much about the internal workings of her administration except that they’ve accomplished a great deal. As far as employment contracts, I do know the department heads after I left started working on contract but that began under Mayor Judy. I was an ‘at will’ employee whose employment was protected under the Idaho Statutes for City Treasurers. That meant I could be dismissed for any reason as long as at least four council members voted that way. The other statutory officers, those defined within Idaho Code, are the City Clerk and Attorney. It looks like from the budget document that each of them are now under contract as well along with the other non-statutory department heads.

    Here’s the botton line for me on this issue: You can criticize her all you want but Mayor Bloem’s administration will be marked by the city’s great achievements long after all of us are gone.

    Comment by John Austin — March 29, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  25. Interesting wording John Austin, “..Mayor Bloems’s administration will be marked by the city’s great achievments…” With the words you used, you did not say the Mayor is good, or her administration is good, but did only say her administration will be “marked” (which is neither good or bad)by the “city’s achievements.” Oh well, close enough for an ex-city employee.

    Comment by old dog — March 29, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

  26. Old dog, you missed my point which is I believe Mayor Bloem has done a great job over the past ten years, especially considering she had to pick up from the shambles created from the previous administration. She has done it by promoting from within the ranks her first police chief, fire chief and administrator and keeping other key personnel in place. That’s not easy to do but she has done it. Of course, she had some great tools to work with when she came into office, specifically strong cash balances and a successful urban renewal agency, but she has shown the leadership necessary to bring it all together and make her home town a much better place in which to live. That’s my point: the legacy from this administration is that people will remember for generations the people that made it all happen.

    Comment by John Austin — March 30, 2012 @ 1:09 am

  27. “I believe Mayor Bloem has done a great job over the past ten years, especially considering she had to pick up from the shambles created from the previous administration.”

    “Of course, she had some great tools to work with when she came into office, specifically strong cash balances and a successful urban renewal agency”

    You discredit the previous administration that GAVE HER THE TOOLS. So, which is it John? Sounds to me like it was the PREVIOUS administration that created the wave that she was lucky enough to ride.

    “but she has shown the leadership necessary to bring it all together and make her home town a much better place in which to live.”

    Are you freaking kidding? Every decent paying job is gone, taxes are so high that NO business will touch this area, locals that do not fit the financial mold are forced out to the out lying areas, the only jobs created will all of your URA money are $3.35 per hour SLAVE labor jobs. YEAH John, she has done a GREAT job.

    Comment by concerned citizen — March 30, 2012 @ 7:21 am

  28. #8 refers to the council member being a sounding board for guidance to his/her assigned department head…
    Inasmuch as the mayor has chosen to exclude Dan from appointment to any city commission or committee, it would appear that this would not be applicable to him. I think it important to note that John Bruning, the former councilman who was handily defeated by Steve Adams, has been appointed to four city committees and has applied to the fifth.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — March 30, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  29. Susie,

    Part of the deal is for councilmembers to represent their constituents on committees and commissions as well as at council meetings. Withholding those memberships from any councilman amounts to denying the councilman’s constituents the official’s representation. That makes it impossible for the councilman to deliver the honest services to which his constituents are entitled.

    Comment by Bill — March 30, 2012 @ 9:39 am

  30. My personal feeling is that councilmen shouldn’t sit on ANY citizen’s committee. General Services and Public Works should be it. We should be ex officio on any committee and be entitled to sit at the table, but not be allowed membership or voting privileges.

    Comment by Dan — March 30, 2012 @ 10:25 am

  31. I agree, Dan. Having a council person as a voting member of a committee or commission gives them basically three votes on any measure: the committee level, the General Services or Public Works level, and the city council level. (Gen. Services and Public Works are city council sub committees made up of only council members. Three on each. They filter the requests and decide what goes on to council.)

    But having former city councilman John Bruning on 4 city committees and a request for a fifth, is absurd! We are a city of 40,000…there has to be at least one more willing person out there!

    Comment by mary — March 30, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

  32. Could Bruning be gearing up for another run at council?

    Comment by Dan — March 30, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  33. Dan, do you disagree with a council person representing CDA on the KMPO board? That is an important assignment in that millions of transportation dollars are apportioned based on the decisions of that board.

    And, CC, the cash balances that Mayor Bloem inherited were despite the best efforts of the previous administration to spend them down. The URA was put into place during Al Hassell’s administration, which ended four years before Mayor Bloem took office. It was a period in which impact fees were developed and franchise fees on utility companies used for streets. Mayor Bloem has done a great job, with her staff, of utilizing those assets and programs over the last ten years. That’s my point, pure and simple.

    Comment by John Austin — March 30, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  34. John, I don’t think your comments are unbiased regarding the Judy Administration. Your tenure with the city ended in 2000 during Steve Judy’s time as mayor. When Urban Renewal was “sold” to us during Al Hassel’s term there were many of us who didn’t buy in that this program would end in 3 years after downtown was revitalized. We walked neighborhoods, put up signs and made calls in an effort to unseat Al Hassel. You continue to criticize the man who helped facilitate the University of Idaho Expansion in Coeur d’Alene, worked hard to eliminate the racist image of Coeur d’Alene and stood up to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding Lake Coeur d’Alene. Steve Judy wasn’t perfect, but after four years as mayor he was gone. I only wish that the term of Urban Renewal would have been as brief.

    Comment by doubleseetripleeye — March 30, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

  35. Susie,
    Would you please list those committees so we may review the members and charters of those committees that Brunung has been appointed to.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — March 30, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

  36. KMPO is not a City citizen committee.

    Comment by Dan — March 30, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  37. Thanks for the clarification, Dan.

    Comment by John Austin — March 30, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

  38. So John Bruning is on the Team McEuen Advisory Committee, the Arts Commission, the Open Space Committee, the new Dike Committee and, because 4 committees are not enough for someone like John, he’s going to be brought forward at the next City Council meeting as a candidate for the Ped/Bike Committee too!

    John is a nice man, but he’s quiet and rarely adds much to any committee except going along with the company line.

    Comment by mary — March 30, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  39. Thank you “Susie”.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — March 30, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

  40. Mary,

    Do you think Bruning might have signed the “LOYALTY OATH”? Betcha he was more than happy to do so.

    Comment by concerned citizen — March 31, 2012 @ 6:48 am

  41. John, I really do try to be even handed and civilized in my postings. However, I can’t agree wwith your prophecy as to the legacy of Bloems tenure. I will therefore make my own prophecy. If the McEuen project is slammed through as it appears will happen, the Bloem tenure will be “marked” as the administration that saddled the tax payer with a huge debt for a project that the majority didn’t want and had absolutely no say in the matter.

    Comment by rochereau — March 31, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  42. I think it sad commentary that the City would appoint any individual citizen to so many committess. It begs the question(s) – how many committess does the City have, does the Council and Mayor follow their “recommendations” and, are citizens committees (with membership that includes an elected official) even an effective forum from which the Council should be basing decisions?

    Old-school public employee practice – When too hot to handle, form a committee of (cheerleaders with a token dissenter) who will support the underlying premise and preconcieved conclusion. Or in my opinion, a weak, basterdized form of government that more often than not diffuses and weakens political actions that should be taken.

    Comment by old dog — March 31, 2012 @ 9:50 am

  43. Ahaah, committees. I’m reminded of this quote I picked up somewhere:

    “Any simple problem can be made unsolvable if enough meetings are held to discuss it.” :)

    Comment by Gary Ingram — March 31, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  44. Roch: ‘the administration that saddled the tax payer with a huge debt for a project that the majority didn’t want’

    Let’s break that statement down. 1- ‘saddled the tax payer with a huge detb’. The fact is only those taxpayers in the Lake District will be paying for McEuen (less than 10% of city taxpayers), and that is from taxes they are already required to pay anyway. They pay no more than anyone else in the city. Thus, there are no new taxes to ‘saddle’ anyone with. That’s why no vote was required. 2- ‘a project the majority didn’t want’. The fact is we don’t know that to be true. Whereas you may know more against the project, I’ve talked with way more supporters than those against. Since no vote was required (because as I stated there is no additional tax levy) your statement cannot be verified.

    I enjoy a discourse on these issues but verifiable statements need to be presented.

    Concerning as Mayor Bloem, I’m sure she doesn’t care about ‘legacies’ but McEuen Field, along with the Kroc Center, Library and Ed Corridor, will be the project long remembered from her adminstrations and enjoyed for generations by her contituents.

    Comment by John Austin — March 31, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  45. I’ve talked with way more supporters than those against

    Apparently they didn’t show up in droves at the polls, John. If they care, they vote. Those who voted spoke overwhelmingly against the project. That’s why Steve, Ron, and I are sitting there.

    Face it: Urban renewal is not being used here for “economic development.” It is a vehicle of convenience, designed to avoid a public vote on a park. The City could easily have taken out a bond for the whole thing, but that requires a vote. So UR dollars were completely unneeded for this venture, had the majority of the council respected the public’s desire to vote.

    Comment by Dan — March 31, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  46. And the fact that LCDC already gets the tax money does not make it right. “We’re already ripping you off, so we’ll just use that money so you won’t get to vote on the park, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop us.”

    Comment by mary — March 31, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  47. But, think of the possibilities.
    But, think of the possibilities.
    But, think of the possibilities.

    (Credit John Austion)

    One man one goal one mission,
    One heart one soul just one solution,
    One flash of light yeah one god one vision

    No wrong no right,

    I’m gonna tell you there’s no black and no white,
    No blood no stain,
    All we need is one world wide vision

    (Credit Queen… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUsOR5rWH8I)

    Comment by Pariah — March 31, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  48. John, as Dan stated above, the last election “verified” my statement that the majority do not want the current McEuen plan. How much further verification do you want? I never stated that a “new tax levy” would be required. LCDC funds come from the tax paying public. Doesn’t matter what the percentage is, still tax dollars. And while a vote wasn’t legally required, ethics alone would state that a $39million tax expenditure be put to a vote. We all know that no advisory vote was taken because the proponents (Bloem & Co.) would lose. If that were not so, why no vote? Rhetorical question! And many thanks for a good laugh…..Bloem doesn’t care about legacies. You’re kidding, right!!! I have never noted anyone who wanted recognition more. I therefore believe that, given the above reasoning, my statements are more than verified. As Dan further stated, if the majority wanted the McEuen debacle, neither he, Steve or Ron would have been elected.

    Comment by rochereau — March 31, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

  49. John…………… If Princess Mayor Bloem was so certain of a majority ‘aye’ position on McEuen then why did her Majesty oppose a public advisory vote? Heck, just think about it. She could have reveled in winning that referendum and shut down any controversy on the expenditure. But she did not want any vote, did she? Odd……. don’t you think? (Ready for the John
    spin-mode.)

    Comment by Wallypog — March 31, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  50. Wally, John has pretty well hoisted himself on his own petard. It’s pretty hard to “spin” the clear evidence of a legitimate vote count. It wasn’t my comments that were without credence.

    Comment by rochereau — March 31, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

  51. Wally / Roche,

    You and Johnny live in totally different worlds. Let me try and let you see things his way.

    Primus: There is a way to get the money. Always it starts with money.

    Secundus: There is a vision that involves concrete. Not concrete ideas, but CONCRETE. The world of the “pretty people” starts with money and moves to concrete.

    Tertius: Vision. There is a power structure that has access to that MONEY and friend who sells CONCRETE and they can SEE a way to reward their friends and create the next item.

    Quarte: Legacy. This is one way the “pretty people” reward their myrmidons, with a brass plate and the names of the myrmidons engraved to create for them a LEGACY. (The “pretty people” do not mind, their LEGACY is the money they extract from the power structure via their tools.)

    Money + concrete + vision = legacy. Those who cannot see this, well they are blind. Those who cannot see are lower forms of life absent vision, Morlocks devoid of any redeeming value, other than their labor and their taxes.

    Comment by Pariah — March 31, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  52. Face it: Urban renewal is not being used here for “economic development.” It is a vehicle of convenience, designed to avoid a public vote on a park. The City could easily have taken out a bond for the whole thing, but that requires a vote. So UR dollars were completely unneeded for this venture, had the majority of the council respected the public’s desire to vote.

    Correct. And worse, by using up the LCDC credit limit on a 40 MILLION dollar waste of concrete, they avoid doing real urban renewal. There are projects, like low income housing, that could be done. But those are usually stick built (no concrete, no brass plaques) and not very sexy.

    Comment by Pariah — March 31, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  53. Dan: ‘the City could easily have taken out a bond for the whole thing, but that requires a vote. So UR dollars were completely unneeded for this venture, had the majority of the council respected the public’s desire to vote.’

    So, Dan, you’re saying you prefer an increase for ALL city taxpayers, via a tax levied for the purpose of the McEuen Field upgrade, to the use of urban renewal dollars already in place from one in ten of your contituents? In other words you advocate an increase in taxes for EVERYONE, in favor of NO tax increase that would still provide millions for McEuen?

    I think this is an important revelation, if indeed that is your point. I hope you would consider the impact of your statement before you make it any more public than you already have on this site. I would hate to paint you as an advocate of a large tax increase when the avenue to fund something is already in place. I think your contituents would also be surprised to discover that was your position, regardless of your opinion of urban renewal or LCDC.

    As you know, Dan, I respect your advocacy but I must question your statement on this point.

    Comment by John Austin — March 31, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

  54. John: That’s because THEY GET TO VOTE ON IT.

    Read it again. People in this state have the right to raise their own taxes. If the government can sell the project, and the people agree, then they VOTE to raise their own taxes and proceed with the project.

    I recognize that such a philosophy is against the tool you’ve been peddling around the state, but it works. People get to vote. They do it all the time for the school districts Witness the success of KTEC. It can happen, John. Believe in the people! They are supposed to be in charge, not the unelected boards that raise taxes through UR.

    And to have you continue to spread the myth that UR doesn’t raise taxes is baffling. The money has to come from somewhere.

    Comment by Dan — March 31, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

  55. The money comes from taxes already being levied Dan. You know that. From a plan that has been in place for fifteen years. Sure, they are taxes that might go somewhere else without UR, like into the wasteland that is the county, NIC, etc, but instead those ten percent of city taxpayers get to see their money at work on a project that benefits everyone. With a vote comes a tax increase. With UR, no tax increase. Just money going to a specific purpose that makes the city a better place.

    Comment by John Austin — March 31, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

  56. “Sure, they are taxes that might go somewhere else without UR, like into the wasteland that is the county”

    There you have it folks. It is not natural surroundings, forests and open space, it is “WASTE LANDS”. John isn’t going to be happy until all of those blighted farms and ranches are completely covered in condos.

    John,
    URA is not paying for McEuen. It is paying for a PORTION of McEuen. The LCDC is paying to get it started only to fulfill the prophecy of the visionaries. Who has to pay for the “EQUAL OR BETTER”?

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 1, 2012 @ 6:31 am

  57. “I would hate to paint you as an advocate of a large tax increase …”

    If you did, you would be a LIAR.

    Your purpose here is now clear. Get Dan to speak his mind so that others can cut-n-paste his words selectively for the next election attacks.

    DEEspicable Johnny, DEEspicable.

    Comment by Pariah — April 1, 2012 @ 6:49 am

  58. I wonder how much Mr. Austin is getting paid for his comments on this blog? He has never left the impression on me that he would be the type of person who willingly wants to give back to the community.

    I find his attempted intimidation public comments to Dan very offensive.

    Comment by LTR — April 1, 2012 @ 7:38 am

  59. I’m not offended. I find John’s comments to be engaging. Understand the cage he’s put himself into and his comments make sense.

    Part of the Great Political Divide we find ourselves in is that the extremes of both sides see everything as sacred black and holy white. When you lose that perspective, you understand and accept different points of view as just that.

    Comment by Dan — April 1, 2012 @ 9:20 am

  60. I’m not paid to post here or anywhere else, just as I don’t get paid to write a monthly column for the Press. For what it is worth, I’ve yet to be compensated for my screenplays, either, but that’s a different story. :)

    But that’s OK because I live in the country with a great woman, two horses and a Great Dane pup, and enjoy every minute of it.

    Meanwhile, Dan, I agree there is a political divide on a national scale. I just hope we can close it somewhat on a local level by trying to see each other’s perspective on the issues. I really am working to see your side as I know you are forthright in your assertions. And, while I don’t like all aspects of the McEuen Field plan I think now is the time to make the changes that have been in the works for over fifteen years. The city’s leaders were visionaries then as now, recognizing the best use of prime waterfront should be something other than out-of-staters and commercial interests parking trailers on it.

    I appreciate this forum, if not all of the personal attacks from a few posters on it, because it presents views alternate to mine. I could just as easily refrain from posting here but then the discussion would remain one-sided with no opportunity to gain on each other’s perspectives. I hope this becomes a more civil site so that opportunity can flourish.

    Comment by John Austin — April 1, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  61. John, I’d like to ask you to clarify your statement last night about “…they are taxes that might go somewhere else without UR, like into the wasteland that is the county, NIC, etc…”

    Wasteland?

    Comment by mary — April 1, 2012 @ 9:50 am

  62. Mary, there are people who don’t know where their taxes go. They just know they have to pay them or lose their property. With UR a property owner who invests there can see where his taxes go: to public works projects outlined in the urban renewal plan. As far as ‘wasteland’ that is not a knock on current county officials. I just think the structure of county government is wasteful and needs to be more like cities. Having worked in both settings I know of what I speak. That’s why I support the Commissioners’ efforts to change their structure and bring in a professional to run the place. They also need their elected officials to go part time (like city council members) and allow specialists to carry out their plans.

    Comment by John Austin — April 1, 2012 @ 10:30 am

  63. Austin….. The better description would be ‘shades of wasteland’ because your version of how the $$ is spent, to many, is at least as ‘wasted’ as any used by the county, etc. Your hubris to call the other kettle ‘black’ is not out of character. Are you certain you not been paid for any screenplays? I’d have thought for sure you were behind the “Gangs of New York” movie. Short of the outright violence that movie is a perfect fit for CdA’s fog of insider dealings.

    Comment by Wallypog — April 1, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  64. Of course John has got his little piece of the pie and to hell with everyone else. Everyone else should be in a cubical determined on what the government feels one should or should not own or be able to afford. It is all about increasing the tax base to him. You know, an ever growing government.

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 1, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  65. No, CC, it is about increasing the job base. Like we’re doing in Bonners Ferry with the new Super One store about to employ 100 people who desperately need work in that town. Good wages, too, working for a great employer.

    It happened because of urban renewal incentives I wrote into their plan last year. It happened because of forward-thinking people trying to make their town a better place to live.

    It didn’t happen because of people like you and Wally, who add nothing to the discussion but instead use this site to bad mouth me. But, that’s OK. I’ll put my record of public achievement against yours any day of the week. Oh, wait, that would mean revealing your identity and that would never work.

    Comment by John Austin — April 1, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  66. They also need their elected officials to go part time (like city council members) and allow specialists to carry out their plans.

    ‘Cause them “specialists” are soooooo good.

    Cue retching noises.

    Comment by Pariah — April 1, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

  67. How do you know if I contribute or not to the area John? That is the problem, you raise taxes through UR, which should be private sector, to create 100 jobs but increase the taxes so that THOUSANDS more do NOT come in BECAUSE of said higher taxes.

    Broaden the tax base, that is ALL you stand for. As far as my contribution to the conversation, it is the opinion, last I heard I was still entitled to, of a business person that highers people in the community. Oh and BTW, pays more than your slave labor jobs provided by your Riverstone and Lake District URD’s.

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 1, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

  68. Sorry, frustrated with big government types. …….hires people……

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 1, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

  69. Oh, wait, that would mean revealing your identity and that would never work.

    And why is that Johnny? Because your sleazy left wing buds make life miserable for those folks when they can ID them.

    No, CC, it is about increasing the job base. Like we’re doing in Bonners Ferry with the new Super One store about to employ 100 people who desperately need work in that town. Good wages, too, working for a great employer.

    Yeah, right. Those jobs were gonna be there either way Johnny, that is how the grocery business works. You just help redistribute monies to benefit a select few and warped the market.

    Comment by Pariah — April 1, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  70. The *BEST* and most fair economic incentive, in my opinion? Lowering taxes for everyone, not just the select few insiders.

    Comment by mary — April 1, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

  71. Lowering taxes for everyone, not just the select few insiders.

    That will require cutting the costs of government Mary. Reducing the number of six figure paid “specialists” that Johnny thinks so well of, for example. How many of them work for that “wasteland” of a County government? How many work for Her Sandiness?

    Let’s also see what reducing obnoxious government regulations could do for business. Again eliminate the number of “specialists” who tell the productive how to work and see what happens. Eliminate the nonsense and keep the essential.

    Comment by Pariah — April 1, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  72. omment #60 “Meanwhile, Dan, I agree there is a political divide on a national scale.” What John doesn’t realize is that all politics are LOCAL.

    Just stand back and observe whenever you have the time and inclination……..

    A liberal is a liberal above all else and it permeates every aspect of their lives. Their entire being has a liberal prefix.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — April 1, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  73. Mary, only people like Dan can lower taxes. He can do it immediately during the budget process, which depends so much on the employee associations and the bargaining that happens with them. URAs don’t impact taxes, as I’ve proven before, so if you want truly lower taxes make sure the local governments hear from you on that point.

    Comment by John Austin — April 1, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

  74. There’s still a lot of fat that can be cut beyond salaries, John. The City is spending $2,100 for a party with artists at the Resort in October. Three years ago they spent $300 for the same event. That’s a PRIME example of fat that can be cut from the budget that doesn’t affect anyone’s salary.

    Comment by Dan — April 1, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  75. Shows how out of touch they are with the real world that citizens must live in, and the local economy in which regular folks must try to survive. $1800 more for a party this year? When they want to spend $30 Million on McEuen, $5000+++ on Cherry Hill and untold $$$ at Silver Beach? They must live in their own protected bubble.

    Comment by mary — April 1, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  76. I appreciate that there are places to focus on tbe budget, Dan, but salaries and benefits are about 85 percent of the total. That’s not uncommon for local governments where people are the main asset. The single largest impact on the budget is the negotiations with the associations and that is often the most difficult part of being a council member.

    Mary, you keep saying thirty million for McEuen when only about eleven million is currently being collected and dedicated from taxes for the project. There may be other costs but the real numbers are much lower than you are stating. And, that is as it should be when only known, current revenues are being used for the project.

    Comment by John Austin — April 1, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

  77. “Mary, you keep saying thirty million for McEuen when only about eleven million is currently being collected and dedicated from taxes for the project.”

    Oh spin master, Note your use of the word “CURRENTLY” in the above statement.

    There is ALSO the cost of Cherry Hill, the cost of the new complex, the new location of the boat launch and its parking, that I am sure like the Kroc Center and Library, will not cost one cent more. Yeah. Right.

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 2, 2012 @ 7:03 am

  78. CC, the projects you list are outside LCDC’s districts so they cannot be funded from urban renewal funds. They would have to come from some other source like the fund raising campaign going on for the ball park. Further, if there is a bond issue to increase taxes for any element of those projects a public vote requiring two-thirds approval would be required.

    so, the only way the other projects can be funded without voter approval would be a method that did NOT raise taxes or fees. That’s why we should limit our discussion on McEuen Field to the funding currently in place, which is about $11 million.

    Comment by John Austin — April 2, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  79. Then add in all the “traffic lights” and other off-site improvements surrounding any new development. Take Kroc center as an example: It should have been obvious to the City Engineering Department that the intersection leading to Kroc would need a signal – an expensive multi-interchange signal. The last time I had to price a traffic light array for a 4-lane arterial signal intersecting a two lane collector road the price was 400K and added another 15K in annual maintenance. Who eventually paid for that “off-site” infrastructure development?

    The developers of Kroc and LCDC funds did not come close to paying for the new signal installed leading to the Kroc Center, likewise, the signal would not have been needed if the Kroc Center would not have been developed–it was only “discovered” after the fact (of approving the Kroc Center) by the City that a signal needed to be installed, therefore the entire City paid to mitigate impacts caused by Kroc and LCDC investments. Unless checked (as in check and balance), the same will hold with Cherry Hill, a new boat launch at Silver Beach, etc. etc.

    Traffic is traffic, noise is noise – whether those impacts are caused by a for-profit, a non-profit, or City development does not matter to those who have to deal with the congestion and increased noise. Another example: The City’s ordinances that regulate noise impacts within 1/4 mile off the City’s shoreline into Lake CDA and other “noises” in the City starts out by saying that excessive noises are harmful to the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of the City.

    But then–City code goes on to “exempt” specific, individual noise generators as if some noises, generating the same sound level readings, are not harmful. Namely, current City Code exempts noise coming from commercially operated vessels (Hagadone party barges) and concerts in our downtown City Park. Why is loud music coming from the top of a Duane boat not harmful, when my personal watercraft vessel music is harmful?

    The City has granted too many waivers, variances, and looked the other way on so many projects that the public has been misled regarding the real long-term cost of development that eventually were, or will eventually be differed to the public and paid by all – not just those in the various URD’s.

    Comment by old dog — April 2, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  80. Again mr spin master. IF the ball fields were to remain at McEuen there would BE no extra need for a vote for the new location so YES it has everything to do with McEuen and your twists and turns. It is the way with you government types. “BUY IT NOW FOR ONLY $19.95″. Then the lawyer comes in with all of the mumbo jumbo disclaimer of added costs EXCEPT, we don’t have any disclaimers.

    So yes, it is exactly like the Kroc and Library. Lie after lie after lie.

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 2, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  81. Old Dog, the signal at the Kroc Center came from impact fees paid into an account from all new development in the city. The city was wise in the 1990s to require those that impact services to pay for their fair share of them. CDA’s tax rate continues to decline because of the explosive new growth, which means people lucky enough to live there get all the new amenities while paying less in taxes.

    Now I ask you. Who can anyone reasonably argue with that?

    Comment by John Austin — April 2, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  82. Was I correct in remembering that the Salvation Army asked the city to fund the signal at Ramsey, and the city refused?

    Someday we should address the issue of impact fees on Open CdA.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — April 2, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

  83. I’d like that, Susie. Impact fees have raised millions of dollars for the city, money that has been used in many ways to improve traffic, provide parks and build public safety facilities. Impact fees are a fair and reasonable way for growth to pay for its fair share of the impact of that growth.

    The impact fees for utilities like wastewater and water are called capitalization fees, or hookup fees, and serve the same purpose. To make sure current residents don’t have to bear the burden placed on governments because of new growth.

    In case you don’t recall, Coeur d’Alene was the first city in Idaho to impose impact fees after lobbying the legislature to allow the fees, beginning after the 1996 session. I’m proud that I was a part of that lobby because it only seemed fair to me that new construction pay the cost of its impact on the city.

    Comment by John Austin — April 2, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  84. Taxes, gotta love them taxes!

    http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2003/06metropolitanpolicy_nelson.aspx

    Comment by Pariah — April 3, 2012 @ 5:16 am

  85. John said ” CDA’s tax rate continues to decline because of the explosive new growth, which means people lucky enough to live there get all the new amenities while paying less in taxes.”

    My Kootenai Tax Assessment Notices show the following:

    Year Tax Rate
    2011 .0062862280
    2010 .0057636050
    2009 .0049157170
    2008 .0045132190
    2007 . can’t locate
    2006 .0042050880

    Comment by LTR — April 3, 2012 @ 8:26 am

  86. LTR,

    That looks like your levy rates have increased. I am waiting for some kind of explanation from Mr. Austin. Perhaps like his disagreement with Mr. McDowell, he simply see those numbers as meaning something other than what the rest of the world sees them as.

    Comment by justinian — April 3, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  87. Mary,

    Has anyone done any kind of a records request for prior versions of that “loyalty oath”? Who signed the old versions and what does that say about their judgment?

    Comment by justinian — April 3, 2012 @ 9:21 am

  88. Justinian,

    Neither Mary nor I have — so far. Feel free to make the request from the City. If you want to give us the City’s response, we’ll put it on OpenCdA.

    Comment by Bill — April 3, 2012 @ 9:41 am

  89. John – “The signal at Kroc came from impact fees…” O.K., I’ll bite – But, impact fees are paid by developers from throughout the City, whereas the Kroc Center paid no impact fees, therefore private developers unbeknownst to them “contributed” to this religion based activity center whether they liked it or not. If the Kroc center would have been a private development that generated the same number of trips, the developer would have been required to pay for the light and other associated intersection improvements (or a large percentage of the cost) AND pay impact fees to fix something somewhere else in the City.

    Don’t get me wrong, I support the collection of impact fees. But traffic is traffic, noise is noise – how the City gets away with waiving some fees and rules for some developers and developments is unfair in its present form. If an accurate accounting of impact fees collected and how those impact fees were spent was ever done (by a disinterested third party), you know as well as I that a smelly can of worms would be opened. That accounting would show favoritism to some developers in the form of “waived” fees, “negotiated” fees, “waived” infrastructure improvements and a trend that fees are spent to enrich a few at the cost of the many. For instance, take Hagadone’s new condos on Lakeshore Dr. that currently has a sewer flow problem – are impact fees from north of the freeway paying the cost to replace sewer lines that weren’t overflowing and broken before the condos were built?

    Tracking the TRUE cost of new development, particularly off-site cost to mitigate impacts, are typically overlooked by the City and County because growth is seen by people like you as the end-all solution to pay for past mistakes. How many more traffic lights should John Q developer pay for when his development causes no new impact? Taxes and fees are continually rising and in any growing area the cost to mitigate impacts from development will grow exponentionally–if the city and county fail to understand and then calculate the true cost of development.

    Comment by old dog — April 3, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  90. John, You might remember that I was the only member of the public who attended the impact fee meetings chaired by Mike McDowell while the remainder of the attendees were from the development community. The argument from some was that the imposition of impact fees would increase the costs of the houses so as to make them too costly. I felt, and still feel, that development should pay for itself. Case in point, many in the historical heart of town are paying for new water and/or sewer systems to service development. It is my understanding that impact fees for schools are not included due to the area of impact crossing city boundaries.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — April 3, 2012 @ 11:26 am

  91. LTR, your assessed value has dropped. That’s why your tax ‘rate’ has gone up. Check the amount of taxes actually paid to CDA and let me know the answer. Thanks.

    Susie, school impact fees were calculated as part of our study in 1996 but the amount per house was over $3,000. The school district felt the collection of the fee would negatively impact future plant facility levies so we didn’t include it in the amount charged developers.

    Comment by John Austin — April 3, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  92. John said ”CDA’s tax rate continues to decline…

    {THAT WAS THEN}

    Now Johnny says: “LTR, your assessed value has dropped. That’s why your tax ‘rate’ has gone up.”

    {THAT IS NOW}

    But, think of the possibilities.
    But, think of the possibilities.
    But, think of the possibilities.

    (Credit John Austion)

    One man one goal one mission,
    One heart one soul just one solution,
    One flash of light yeah one god one vision

    No wrong no right,

    I’m gonna tell you there’s no black and no white,
    No blood no stain,
    All we need is one world wide vision

    (Credit Queen… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUsOR5rWH8I)

    Comment by Pariah — April 3, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  93. John,

    My property taxes paid to the City of Cda have continued to climb except during the 2009 election year. Following the election, my 2010 tax notice contained a hugh increase making up for any losses during 2009. We both know that the City does not like to raise taxes during an election year.

    Comment by LTR — April 3, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

  94. Who to believe, who to believe?

    LTR “My property taxes paid to the City of Cda have continued to climb except during the 2009 election year.”

    John said ”CDA’s tax rate continues to decline…

    {THAT WAS THEN}

    Now Johnny says: “LTR, your assessed value has dropped. That’s why your tax ‘rate’ has gone up.”

    {THAT IS NOW}

    Comment by Pariah — April 4, 2012 @ 6:19 am

  95. OK Johnny, you have been shown to be wrong about the impact LCDC has on taxes, at least so far as anyone with credibility can see based on Mr. McDowell’s clear response. You have been shown to be wrong about LTR’s taxes, at least so far as anyone with credibility can see, based on LTR’s clear responses. Wanna take another shot?

    Try explaining why Tony Berns is qualified for a ten thousand dollar a month job? For that matter, what makes Wendy Gabriel worth that kind of money?

    Comment by Pariah — April 4, 2012 @ 6:22 am

  96. P, First, I met with Mike McDowell on the tax increase issue. Before you say I was wrong on that one you should await our response to that meeting. Second, I said ‘taxes’ are virtually unchanged, not the ‘tax rate’. The tax rates go up and down based on the value of your property and have nothing whatsoever to do with the taxes you pay.

    As far as Tony and Wendy, I’ve never been associated with more talented people. They are immensely qualified, whether you and a small band of naysayers believe something different.

    Comment by John Austin — April 4, 2012 @ 9:17 am

  97. “First, I met with Mike McDowell on the tax increase issue.”

    Well, what was the upshot?

    Just my curiosity here, but why not share? Just.

    Comment by justinian — April 4, 2012 @ 9:41 am

  98. The issue is still being resolved. When it is I’ll post the results here. I can say this: Mike remains an incredible asset to his constituents. I hope he runs again and wins another term as Assessor.

    Comment by John Austin — April 4, 2012 @ 11:00 am

  99. “The issue is still being resolved.”

    An odd response. What does that mean?

    Comment by justinian — April 4, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  100. “They are immensely qualified, whether you and a small band of naysayers believe something different.”

    So what academic or prior job history does Mr. Berns have that makes him “qualified”?

    Just asking. Just.

    Comment by justinian — April 4, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  101. Good question Just (may I call you Just?)

    Johnny says they are wunerful, wunerful, the bestest ever. Ain’t that good enuf for you?

    Comment by Pariah — April 4, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

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