April 20, 2012

“Facts Rule” — Coeur d’Alene Press Editorial

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 9:20 am

On Sunday, April 15, 2012, the Coeur d’Alene Press published an unsigned editorial titled “All eyes on recall.”  The gist of the editorial was summarized  by these two sentences midway through it:  “Our purpose today is not to pick sides in this fight but to define some Opinion page rules as the recall effort proceeds. And No. 1 is, facts rule – yes, even when it comes to opinions.”

OpenCdA was pleasantly surprised to see what we believed at the time was an honest commitment by the Press editorial board, a commitment to not pick sides in the recall effort and to ensure that even in opinion writings such as letters to the editor, “facts rule.”

We at OpenCdA were wrong, and we sadly admit today that we, like others in the community,  bought into the deception game the Coeur d’Alene Press is playing with  its readers.

We call your attention to a letter to the editor by Kenneth Burchell in the Friday, April 20, 2012, Coeur d’Alene Press.  In particular, we ask you to examine two factual inaccuracies which the Press published in Burchell’s letter:

“… malcontents who want to circumvent the electoral process …”   While Burchell’s characterization of recall supporters as “malcontents” may be his opinion, stating that the supporters “want to circumvent the electoral process” is not factual.  Indeed, the recall process culminates in a recall election, a very real part of the electoral process as authorized in the Idaho Constitution, Article VI, Section 6, and fulfilled by Idaho Code, Title 34, Chapter 17 – Recall Elections.

Recall is a process reserved for malfeasance, legal chicanery and/or gross ethical breaches. ”  Burchell and the Press would have readers believe that is factual.  It is not.  Nowhere in Idaho Code, Title 34, Chapter 17 – Recall Elections does that language appear.   The statement uttered by Burchell and reproduced by the Press implies that before Idaho’s citizens can initiate a recall process, some intermediate authority such as a judge, a prosecutor, or the legislature must make some finding of fact and law and then issue a ruling permitting the people to initiate the recall process.   That is true in other states such as Washington, however it is not true in Idaho.

In fact, a careful reading of the Idaho Constitution would lead readers to a conclusion the anti-recall faction (which now clearly and unquestionably includes the Coeur d’Alene Press) would prefer readers not understand:  The Idaho Constitution’s writers made it quite clear that they put complete trust and confidence in the people’s collective judgment to initiate a recall process without first getting permission from those who might themselves be subject to recall by the people.  (See Idaho Constitution, Article I, Section 2 and Article VI, Section 6).  Apparently the authors of Idaho’s Constitution and its statutes embraced the concept of trusting the electors — a concept shunned and rejected by Mayor Bloem, Council President Mike Kennedy, Councilman Woody McEvers, and Councilman Deanna Goodlander.

(click image to enlarge) Note the tiny sliver of yellow, representing an excerpt from the smiley face of deception, in the deceiver's eye.


In the opening to this post, I used the term “the deception game.”  In fact, “The Deception Game” was the title of a 1972 book by Ladislav Bittman (cover shown left), an officer in the Czechoslovak Intelligence Service until he fled Czechoslovakia to the United States after the Soviet invasion in 1968.  Bittman had been appointed Deputy Chief of the Czech intel service’s newly-formed disinformation department.   Disinformation operations run by the intelligence services of the former Soviet Union and its satellite supporters were intended to deceive and misdirect by including the small sliver of critical deception among a larger body of more-or-less accurate information.

Understanding the deception game will help readers also better assess the accuracy, truthfulness,  completeness, and motivation of the Coeur d’Alene Press‘s news coverage and opinion pages in its “coverage” of local issues.  “Facts rule?”  No, not so much.




  1. Facts are unpleasant inconveniences to some, but a staple of others. What I’ve noticed is the anti-recall effort keeps pointing out 4-6 different things they thing RecallCDA has fudged on. But in their attempt to set the record straight, they muddle the waters with half-truths, and a fiction.

    An example is them claiming the park is only 14.2 million. This leaves people not in the know with the impression that’s all the park will ever cost. However, they all agree the park will eventually be the 28-42 million behemoth called the Master Plan. But they stick with 14.2 million is all the park will ever cost tax-payers. Sure some of their group will claim the other 14-28 million will come from private donations, but in the words of the CDA leaders, “They are aggressively trying to raise money for the park.” Will they look at federal grants? If so, they’ve taken the problem from a local tax base to a national level–meaning taxes are raised. What about a future council that is trying to put the finishing touches on the park, will they agree with Bloem (at least as she claims) that taxes won’t be raised?

    Civic leaders are famous for claiming they’re against additional tax revenue for a project, and some stick by their word. But when they leave office, often times their replacements don’t honor their commitment. Will the anti-recall group be there to stop future leaders from raising taxes? Or will they continue their crusade to ‘bless’ the city of CDA with a theme park like downtown and form a coalition to raise taxes?

    Comment by dinosaurman — April 20, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  2. Regardless of how the facts or anyones spinning of those facts happens to be, there remains a singular irrefutable circumstance. The economy is in a real serious bind and these power people are spending tax money like there is no bottom to the well. If they were getting the most bang for the buck there might be some excuse for the expenditures. But they are not. They are paying top dollar and have no regrets about doing so. Bottom line: They are fiscally reckless, they do not care and they at least need a real serious wake-up call, or at best, to be shown the door.

    I now await Austin’s feckless regurgitation of babulatory nonsensical and unrelated perturbations.

    Comment by Wallypog — April 20, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

  3. I guess I should have put this here.

    The latest “TRIPE” from the press “Recall: ‘They have done nothing illegal'” again is NOT factual but simply opinion. Didn’t the editor announce that he would only allow facts?

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 20, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  4. Lets say it is 40 mil. Has anyone figured out what the cost per taxpayer is by year after subtracting an estimate lcdc percent? Yes i know lcdc is a tax we all inevitably pay at some form. But what is the net annual

    Comment by adamgraves — April 20, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  5. graves,

    Since no one else will answer the question, I will ask you. Is the $11 million from the LCDC sitting in a bank, vault, coffee can, etc ready to be put in place for McEuen or is it still in the form of a bond/loan on future revenues?

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 21, 2012 @ 6:42 am

  6. concerned citizen,

    RE: Your comment in #3: No, the editorial seemed to say that the news/views/skewspaper would not allow opinion to be stated as fact.

    For example, please reread Burchell’s statement, “Recall is a process reserved for malfeasance, legal chicanery and/or gross ethical breaches,” quoted in my post. That may well be Burchell’s opinion, but that sentence is an unqualified misstatement of fact unsupported and in fact completely refuted by Idaho law. His statement is an excellent example of precisely the kind of misstatement of fact the Press deceptively said it would not allow in an opinion letter to the editor.

    By publishing Burchell’s letter, Press publisher Jim Thompson and editor Mike Patrick have finally and completely thrown off their pretext of neutrality in news reporting. While opinion reporting is not expected to be neutral, news reporting is. After seeing Burchell’s letter with its content clearly contrary to the cited editorial opinion, no one could reasonably and rationally conclude that the Press publisher and editor performing as the editorial board who approved it could somehow switch off their clear personal biases when making decisions regarding news reporting.

    Comment by Bill — April 21, 2012 @ 6:48 am

  7. Adam Graves seems to be focused on the Amount of money taken from people without their approval. The numbers don’t matter. What does matter is that cities are supposed to ask the people, via a vote, if they want to spend money beyond the one year budget for an extra-ordinary project that is not part of the necessary operation of the city. That’s the intent of the Idaho Constitution, but our city has gotten around that accountability to the citizens by using LCDC, which is also taxpayer money but slips through a loop hole in the law.

    Please come in TODAY to sign the Recall! The Recall CdA Headquarters is OPEN 10-4 Sat & Sun, and 10-6 every other day of the week.

    We’re located in the Sunset Mall, right across Hwy 95 from Fred Meyer, and near Coin Nuts, AAA and Las Chevelas restaurant.

    Comment by mary — April 21, 2012 @ 8:38 am

  8. I think it does matter. what is the direct financial impact on the property tax for an average (150k?) home owner at 14mil. Other issues (bonds etc) usually are spoken of in these terms.

    Comment by adamgraves — April 21, 2012 @ 9:26 am

  9. Adam, the city is not borrowing the money so there is no impact on taxpayers. If the city was borrowing the money, a 2/3 majority vote in favor of the financing would be required, just like any other general obligation bond.

    Instead, LCDC is borrowing the money, as allowed by law and validated by the Idaho Supreme Court, from funds already planned for and being currently received. The funds are dedicated to McEuen Field, as has been the plan for 15 years, a plan that was adopted by elected officials then and reapproved by elected officials in 2002. Remember, LCDC can’t spend any money that hasn’t been approved by the city council in a plan they adopt for that purpose. LCDC’s financing of the project was also approved in this plan, so neither the city nor LCDC is doing anything wrong on this project.

    Opponents may not like the financing plan but it is fully legal and has no impact on taxpayers.

    Comment by John Austin — April 21, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  10. John- Thanks for finally admitting that the money is not currently there, but is borrowed. The last time I mentioned this you scoffed and acted as if I was loony, but you’ve confirmed exactly what I said- the money as of right now is borrowed.

    The point, just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.

    Comment by dinosaurman — April 21, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  11. Lets say it is 40 mil. Has anyone figured out what the cost per taxpayer is by year after subtracting an estimate lcdc percent? Yes i know lcdc is a tax we all inevitably pay at some form. But what is the net annual

    Comment by adamgraves — April 20, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

    Adam, I am not an expert but subtracting $14M from $40M leaves a balance of $26M. The Water Department site states they have 16,000 active accounts. These active accounts are homes and multi-living units. This gives us a pretty good idea how many homes pay property taxes. So divide $26M by 16,000 property owners and the result is each property tax payer may be charged $1625 over the various phases of construction should no donations come in.

    Please allow me to state that I live on a fixed income and additional taxes take a toll on that fixed income. My only financial investment is my home and the value has decline over the last several years. I do not have any hope of gaining any additional income dollars. Every time my taxes increase, I am faced with decisions such as what can I cut from my budget or what home improvements do I give up. Or do I not seek medical treatments that can prolong my well being? Many in our community are faced daily with these type of decisions.

    Comment by LTR — April 21, 2012 @ 10:59 am

  12. LTR what the “pretty people” will say is something like this:

    “It will cost the average taxpayer less than the cost of a six-pack of soda once a month.”

    The arrogance of these plutocrats and their silver spoon children is breathtaking.

    Comment by Pariah — April 21, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  13. Dino, I don’t know what my church has to do with this (or even how you know where I attend) but the fact is I’ve never said there would be no borrowing on this issue. Neither has the city or LCDC. The facts is that the money is currently being levied and will accrue over the next eight years, that’s all.

    Comment by John Austin — April 21, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  14. John, how can LCDC borrow against future tax revenues when the Mayor and city council always say “they cannot bind future councils”?

    What if a different Mayor and council are in office soon and they reduce the city budget, which would in turn reduce the revenues to LCDC…the very thing they used as “collateral” for their loan?

    Comment by mary — April 21, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  15. John, my intent was not to hobble you because of your church, but to make a point. My apologies if you interpreted it that way.

    There are laws on the book that many people disagree with, whether it be for personal, religious, or just plain common sense reasons. In hindsight I should have used the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which many interpret as a free pass to detain American citizens indefinitely without a trial by jury, and in some instances extermination if warranted. If that is the proper translation, than that is an example of a law that would be viewed as wrong by most all Americans.

    Personally, I think Urban Renewal programs are as honest and legal as bailouts worth trillions (Bangs head on desk). Hopefully in time Americans will realize they’ve been duped and will kick Agenda 21 schemes like Urban renewal to the curb.

    Comment by dinosaurman — April 21, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

  16. Mary: “What if a different Mayor and council are in office soon and they reduce the city budget, which would in turn reduce the revenues to LCDC”.

    Mary, the city’s budget has nothing at all to do with the revenues to LCDC. I would think you of all people would understand the distinction between the two entities.

    The LCDC budget is based on revenues flowing from taxpayers in its two districts, only one of which is paying for the bulk of McEuen. It doesn’t matter one iota to LCDC who is in office at the city because the two entities are completely separate. That is exactly what the Supreme Court decided on the bonded debt issue.

    The bottom line is this: you can hope to succeed in your recall process but LCDC and its borrowing power to fund McEuen will be completely unaffected by the result. That’s a fact whether you and your supporters understand or believe it or not.

    Comment by John Austin — April 21, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

  17. Ok John, just keep spinning. But excuse me for reiterating what we’ve been over before: If the CdA city budget is reduced, then the levy rate is reduced and the tax-increment-financing (TIF) revenues for LCDC are reduced.

    Perhaps that’s why we are experiencing such a push-back on the Recall effort.

    Comment by mary — April 21, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  18. If you think about it, IF we had a Responsible Mayor+3, they would say, “Heck, if the people of CdA are so upset with us that they want to take all the time and money and energy to mount a Recall movement, let’s just let it go forward and wait to see what the people of CdA decide in the election, ’cause we really want to know if they are in favor of our “vision” or not.”

    But NO. Mayor Bloem & co. are fighting this thing in a down and dirty way. They are using every trick they can think of.

    If they were really responsible and reasonable elected officials we wouldn’t be having this Recall. There would be no need.

    Comment by mary — April 21, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  19. “Ok John, just keep spinning. But excuse me for reiterating what we’ve been over before: If the CdA city budget is reduced, then the levy rate is reduced and the tax-increment-financing (TIF) revenues for LCDC are reduced.”

    “Perhaps that’s why we are experiencing such a push-back on the Recall effort.”>>>>>>Mary

    You are correct, depending on the assessed value of the property inside LCDC’s district/s. However, the levy rate doesn’t automatically drop if the budget is reduced. There are variables such as improvements, building value, land value and site value, all of which the city has no control over, also, that which the city has no ability to collect additional taxes on right now within these districts. There are to many variables that go into this to account for what the levy rate may or may not be if the budget is reduced.

    Comment by lexacon — April 21, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

  20. Mary, your comments from #18 are spot on. They knew if they “allowed” a public vote their vision would be denied as it stood. However, with adjustments and simple improvements, NOT JUST A PARKING GARAGE THE CITY WILL HAVE TO RUN, they would garner much more support from a community they have now divided.

    “The bottom line is this: you can hope to succeed in your recall process but LCDC and its borrowing power to fund McEuen will be completely unaffected by the result. That’s a fact whether you and your supporters understand or believe it or not.”

    You are correct, they will have the borrowing power, but they will not have the developing power! These are two very distinct differences.

    Comment by lexacon — April 21, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

  21. You’re right lexcon, LCDC funds for “offsite infrastructure” only. No more approvals for “pie in the sky” projects.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — April 22, 2012 @ 7:52 am

  22. Mary: “Heck, if the people of CdA are so upset with us that they want to take all the time and money and energy to mount a Recall movement…”

    I guess we’ll find out how many in the city ARE upset, Mary. If you get your 4,300 plus signatures you will know that less than 10% of the city’s residents are upset. Then, if you are successful in getting it on the ballot you’ll be able to count the voters who are upset. Even if all 21,000 voters in CDA vote as if they are upset, there are 110,000 other city and county residents you will not have heard from and we use McEuen in as great a number or greater than city residents. So, your best gauge on this issue is less than 20% of county residents would prove you point “that people are so upset”.

    I already feel cheated because I live outside the city but utilize McEuen every time I come to town and still won’t have a say on this issue. I feel just as powerless on this issue as I am on Camp Easton being taken from those of us who’ve utilized it the most and have no say in its outcome.

    If you want to truly see how angry people are, Mary, ask all of us how angry we all, not just your city residents. After all, we’re all paying exactly the same for the McEuen upgrade, which is zero. Why can’t we have a say, also?

    Comment by John Austin — April 22, 2012 @ 9:19 am

  23. I am tired of hearing JohnA say that nobody [we’re all paying exactly the same…zero]is paying for McEuen. Taxes=free money to bureaucrats like him. He is exactly the type of bureaucrat that should be thrown out.

    Comment by up river — April 22, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  24. John, I’m not in the city and I’m angry. The plan is a pipe-dream, and a poor attempt to make the city resemble a Disneyworld like ambiance. You can’t pretend to speak for all non-cda residents, because I know many that are just as ticked as me at the Bloem regime and their ill planned dream for CDA.

    On another note John, your post is a perfect example of how misleading you can be with numbers. I’m not debating the numbers you listed, because they are true, but you’ve listed both citizens and registered voters as qualifiers for people in CDA. The truth is, there are around 21,000 registered voters in CDA, and by state law the RECALL only needs one fifth of them to sign (4,311). So, if the recall is successful in gaining the proper signatures, than 20% of voters will have spoken out to change the current leadership, not 10% as you listed by counting residents (sorry John children can’t vote). The vote will be later, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that there are many, many more people in CDA upset over the misuse of funds by Bloem and crew.

    Comment by dinosaurman — April 22, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  25. John Austin said “I already feel cheated because I live outside the city but utilize McEuen every time I come to town”.

    What is your reason that you already feel cheated?

    Doug Eastwood is applying for a grant to install more boat docks to tie up your boat. And the City is spending $14M to gain 35 additional vehicle parking spaces and 6 more boat trailer space than they previously have already.

    Comment by LTR — April 22, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  26. dinosaurman,

    I want to elaborate on what you said in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

    The recall is a two-step process. If the first step, gathering sufficient petition signatures from qualified City electors, acquires sufficient valid signatures, then the second step will be to allow all qualified Coeur d’Alene city electors to vote in a recall election. Right now, no one knows when that recall election will be.

    If the first step fails to gather sufficient valid signatures on any of the recall petitions, then there will be no recall election at which qualified City electors can then vote to recall or not recall the officials.

    Even if qualified City electors do not feel strongly one way or the other about recalling the officials, those electors should sign the recall petitions to at least get the officials on the recall ballot. There is no correlation between signing the recall petition and disclosing your vote in the subsequent recall election. That is, a citizen wishing to preserve his and his fellow citizens’ right to vote in the recall election might sign the recall petition but then choose to vote against recalling any of the officials. The secrecy of a petition signatory’s vote in the subsequent recall election will be preserved.

    Comment by Bill — April 22, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  27. When you scratch the surface of a big government type, especially a hard core, long term gubmint employee type, you find a cynical distaste for the common man, a contempt for the productive taxpayer (for example, see the GSA videos from the current scandal) and often a jack booted thug or gangsta type, willing to use force and violence to get their way. Now that the internet and broadband and cell phone videos have intruded, the reality of their conduct is getting out. The revulsion it creates is part of the “tea party” movement. Blogs like this do a great service as it allows the exposure of that kind of hatefilled and angry contempt the “pretty people” and thier myrmidons have for the rest of us.

    Kudos to the folks running this site, you do good work!

    Comment by Pariah — April 22, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  28. Thanks Bill, I shouldn’t have been typing when trying to get out the door this morning.

    On another note, I was at McEuen and Tubbs Hill almost all day, and saw numerous families and small groups playing baseball or softball. Saw people picnicking, and enjoying the sun. Sure a few might have been remnants from the foot-race earlier, but for the most part it appeared to be people content and happy with the way McEuen currently is! RECALL CDA.

    Comment by dinosaurman — April 22, 2012 @ 7:57 pm

  29. Upriver: “I am tired of hearing JohnA say that nobody [we’re all paying exactly the same…zero]is paying for McEuen. Taxes=free money to bureaucrats like him. He is exactly the type of bureaucrat that should be thrown out.”

    I’m sorry, Up, you missed your chance. I retired two years ago. Meanwhile I have no dog in this fight except that I love the waterfront and I am a boater and I think McEuen is a terrible waste of real estate. We will see if I am joined in that regard by the mass of voters in CDA.

    Comment by John Austin — April 22, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

  30. So your answer John is to just TAKE IT? That is what the vote is for. So many have said that they are not against doing SOMETHING. But you and your elite want Disneyland. There IS compromise but not to the stakeholders. PFFFFFFT

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 22, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  31. Plenty of controversy! Riverstone and the Education Corridor surely were not without controversy in the blighted riverfront areas of town for those who had their profitable hands in it and much more. Even the LCDC is not without controversy and no matter how you slice or disguise it great amounts of tax dollars are spent that amounts to taxation without representation in so far as the public’s vote on such projects. Among the multitude of problems is the obvious need for tax money to be spent on vital services and infrastructures that flies in the faces of the people’s far more important needs.

    Build it bigger and beautify these areas with little concern for ensuring those involved are beyond reproach. Now it is the blighted park, boat launch and parking by the resort, and blighted ballparks needing urban renewal. This is no small problem; it is not the rumblings of just one or two people when many simply requested an advisory vote to get by design what avoids the public’s vote under just some control of the public for a change.

    It is not a small amount of controversy surrounding the spending of public money that simply leaves the all-important public out of it. We were elected to arrogantly represent and spend however we want, just couldn’t be more wrong, and it just keeps happening. When in doubt – why not just go to the people is not too much to ask?

    Comment by Appalled — April 22, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  32. So is this WHY the “COMMERCIAL” Corridor land (sewer plant) NEEDED the bogus appraisal to be so high?

    Could it be the goal was to have enough of an impact on surrounding properties as to CREATE a higher tax rate within the URD to guarantee enough funding for McEuen?

    Comment by concerned citizen — April 23, 2012 @ 6:40 am

  33. See

    Without voter approval or an appraisal, Allen Park bought an old Visteon plant (originally Montgomery Ward’s main distribution center) to turn into a movie making enterprise to be called Unity Studios. It paid nearly $40 million for the property and improvements.”

    “In a May 2009 videotaped press conference that took on the image of a Hollywood premier, Allen Park Mayor Gary Burtka was giddy with excitement as he talked about the meeting he and Lifton had with Gov. Jennifer Granholm hours earlier.”

    When “economic development” goes off the rails, the people lose. One of the hallmarks of failed economic development plans across the country is the lack of a public vote. Because the appointed economic development folks and staff do not face the intense public scrutiny a vote entails, the fall into groupthink and arrogance. The reactions I am seeing in North Idaho are classic, anger, denial and fake attempts at bargaining.

    Just my random Monday morning thoughts. Just

    Comment by justinian — April 23, 2012 @ 8:29 am

  34. Sadly when some take the time to look into more then just the spending they always seem to uncover much more going on. It is amazing to me how the elite utilize the URD laws to spend great amounts of tax dollars, especially in tough times, absent a public vote. Then when they go to far they chastise the Recall laws as being a bad thing also. Do they want to rule the people or be responsible public servants? What a dumb question!

    Comment by Appalled — April 23, 2012 @ 9:06 am

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