Last Tuesday’s City Council Meeting was surprising. Not the parade of insiders telling the Mayor they think she’s the best ever. That’s to be expected. They are worried.
What was very unusual, though, was tucked away in the City Administrator’s report. Wendy Gabriel said the city will use the entire street overlay budget for Front Street, as part of the McEuen Park upgrades.
The entire overlay budget. It was supposed to fix 15th Street and other streets around the city. That money comes from the General Fund, directly from our property taxes. (LCDC money comes from property taxes too)
Let me quote from the city’s draft minutes of the meeting to tell you the most important part of this whole issue:
“Councilman Gookin commented that he found it curious that the City’s Chief Engineer commented that he was surprised that the 15th Street overlay project was being delayed for the Front Avenue Improvement Project. Councilman Edinger also commented that he was told that the City Engineer was “shocked” that the Front Avenue Improvement Project was going to take all the overlay money for this year.”
City Engineer Gordon Dobler, who oversees all street improvements, was “shocked” that the whole overlay budget was being diverted to the McEuen project. Wow. City Hall’s communication is in trouble. Who is being kept out of the loop, and why?
I hear that Parks Director Doug Eastwood (pictured above) is calling all the shots and everyone else can just get out of his way.
There’s an interesting Guest Opinion in the Press today. It’s by Dave Van Der Griend, who seems to know quite a bit about project planning. He says that only 15.4 % of the Phase I budget is for park development and that most of the money is for parking. So why, he asks, is the Parks Director in charge?
You can read the whole thing here: http://www.cdapress.com/news/local_news/article_cd4666b4-b0b5-11e1-ba10-001a4bcf887a.html
Here’s an excerpt: “The McEuen Park Project is under management of the park director and thus is a park project. Before assigning this project to parks, perhaps the city leaders should have applied the “duck” test. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. This project is 84.6 percent parking and streets: If it looks like a parking garage, functions like a parking garage and costs like a parking garage, it is then most likely a parking garage. Prudent leadership would choose a project manager with experience in roads, parking structures, massive earth-moving and significant public works budgets … not the director of parks.”
Yet Doug Eastwood is in charge and City Engineer Gordon Dobler is “shocked” and apparently out of the loop. Something’s fishy.
On a different note, Coeur d’Alene’s Mary Lou Reed wrote a recent column about the Recall for the Inlander publication out of Spokane. Mary Lou and her husband, attorney Scott Reed, are well known in our town and their son, Bruce Reed, works in the Obama White House as Chief of Staff to Vice President Joe Biden.
Mary Lou’s column was titled “Recall Folly”, where she claims the Recall movement is against everything in Coeur d’Alene and will “cripple the Lake City if we let it.”
You can read her whole column here: http://www.inlander.com/spokane/article-18005-recall-folly.html
You are mistaken, Ms. Reed. The Recall movement is in favor of many things. We are FOR a public vote, we are FOR citizens having a say in massive city spending, especially when our area still has the highest unemployment rate in Idaho, and we are FOR the people of CdA having a voice when irreversible changes are proposed for highly valued historic landmarks like McEuen Park and Tubbs Hill.
Mary Lou Reed claims that Recall CdA is a “total misuse of the recall process” because the mayor and three council members have not broken the law. I’m very surprised that Ms. Reed, a former legislator, appears to misunderstand the Idaho Constitution and the rights it gives to the people:
ARTICLE 1, SECTION 2: POLITICAL POWER INHERENT IN THE PEOPLE. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit, and they have the right to alter, reform or abolish the same whenever they may deem it necessary…”
In Idaho, we can change our government whenever we deem it necessary. If the mayor and city council are not allowing a public vote on historic matters, or are spending enormous sums of public money without the approval of the people…we can deem it necessary to change them. And that’s just what we are doing. It’s not personal. We’re not being mean. This is about their behavior and actions in their elected office.
The signatures for Recall CdA will put the names of these 4 officials on an election ballot and then all the voters in Coeur d’Alene will get a vote on whether to keep these officials or remove them from office.
So why all the panic and angst? Mary Lou is grasping at straws. She’s claiming Recallers are “fueled by anger, frustration and a hunger for power”, she says we’re dangerous and our spirit is “ugly and growing uglier.” It’s as if she’s looking in the mirror instead of out the window at us standing on the street, smiling, waving signs and giving the people of CdA an opportunity to get a public vote and a voice.
In the illustrious words of President Harry Truman, ”It’s plain hokum. If you can’t convince ’em, confuse ’em. It’s an old political trick. But this time it won’t work.”
Please sign the Recall petitions! Saturday is the LAST DAY. www.recallcda.com or call 704-1596.
PS– My thanks to the Nickel’s Worth for printing my response to Mary Lou Reed, most of which I have included here. It’s in this week’s edition. The Press has turned me down three different times when I’ve requested My Turn columns during this whole process, and when I asked to be in line behind everyone else, they did not respond. I don’t think we’ll continue our subscription after all this is over.
Mary Souza is a 25 year resident of CdA, local small business owner and former P&Z Commissioner. Her opinions are her own. To sign up for her free weekly newsletter, visit www.marysouzacda.com Please visit the local issues web site www.OpenCdA.com for more discussion.