June 7, 2012

City Hall Breakdown

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 12:28 pm

Mary Souza’s Newsletter  

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:

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:

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. 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  Please visit the local issues web site for more discussion.


  1. Mary, We gave it up a long time ago. We now just read the “free” online edition. When that stops, so do we.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — June 7, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  2. A couple things:

    Today, I witnessed a woman holding a RecallCDA sign next to the Costco parking lot. A couple walked up to her and began chatting, becoming very rude while I sat in my truck waiting for traffic to pass. This woman was gracious and just ” Smiled.” These are the encounters (people who are gracious and act with respect )I have had around town and I have nothing to do with your recall, however, I do support it!

    I also know of a teacher who was in the crowd of people who were there to support the Mayor, ( and it was initially a plan to support the mayor, not the whole council, according to an email!) funny thing is, the teacher who is a woman, did not sign the petition, but her husband did! Just to show you that not all the Decline to Sign folks are on the same page!

    Comment by lexacon — June 7, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  3. lexacon

    Teachers do not realize that THEIR future is at stake as well. The people are fed up with being taxed at every turn to the point they are NOT going to pass ANY levy for the schools needed or not. Notice the Northern Lakes Fire district levy did not pass. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Teachers, along with fire fighters, police officers and every other necessity, should be thoroughly P!SSED that tax money is wasted when THEY are asked to take pay cuts via furlough days, cuts in benefits, etc.

    Comment by concerned citizen — June 7, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  4. Good point. It recalls the old saying “you can’t get blood out of a turnip”. We’ve all had enough. (Plus, I just like using the word “recall”)

    Comment by mary — June 7, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  5. Speaking of Mary Lou and Scott Reed – and to connect the dots.

    Their office is on the top floor in the southwest corner suite with a most amazing view of the Lake – in a building owned by the Mayor. They even had a bigger, better lake-view window installed, which of course the City waived permits. KEA also resides in the Mayor’s building, and that too is more than likely paid for by th Reeds via a tax write-off contribution to a 501(c)3.

    I have the utmost respect for the Reeds, and Katie Brodie as far as that goes, but the public should know how well “connected” this little town is and how some are totally “disconnected” to the realities of the future.

    As a last note: I did watch the begginings of the City Counsel meeting from Tuesday. Couple of simple observations; all that lined the wall to speak either had their arms crossed or their hands covering their crotch. Both are telling, but the most interesting of all was that the CH 19 camera provided a panned (moving scan) view of the “crowd”. Never have I seen this before.

    Did the City hire a new Theatre Director or did I miss something?

    Comment by old dog — June 7, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

  6. Several people commented to me on the panning of the audience when it was full of the Mayor’s supporters. They didn’t do so the many times average citizens were in the audience holding up signs that said, “Public Advisory Vote on McEuen”. There were way more than 200 of us.

    Comment by mary — June 7, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  7. I think that Scott Reed’s office does have a spectacular view; however, it is located in the Bank of America building at Fourth and Front and is owned, I believe, by a Steve Meyer/Charlie Nipp partnership. You are correct as Lou’s office is located in the Elder Building across the alley.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — June 7, 2012 @ 9:53 pm

  8. I believe the tenants at the mayors building include Diamond Parking and Kootenai Environmental Alliance.

    Comment by jayhump — June 8, 2012 @ 12:43 am

  9. Well, the Mayor certainly needs to keep her tenants. The Press today had news that the lawsuit against the Mayor by Panhandle State Bank was dismissed by the court. It was in the Local section of the paper so it doesn’t show up online.

    According to the paper, the $75,000 loan from 2005 was not repaid by the due date of July 30, 2011.

    I’m not sure if any of the loan was repaid by the due date, because the article says the bank was seeking $80,375. The Mayor said Thursday, according to the Press, that the loan was “rewritten”. Panhandle State Bank’s attorneys declined to comment.

    Comment by mary — June 8, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  10. Why is Susan Weathers getting so much praise for how she is handling the Recall CdA process? It is her OVERPAID JOB to do it!

    Comment by Fiftysmtg — June 8, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  11. Here’s a post from Mike Kennedy today on Facebook regarding the inspection of the copier by Recall CdA:

    “These people are embarrassing idiots. Doesn’t mean that can’t lie their way into getting a lot of people to sign petitions. But it’s sad nonetheless.”

    Comment by Fiftysmtg — June 8, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  12. Councilman Kennedy sows the seeds of disrespect and temper tantrums. He constantly is feeding the fire of the anti-recall group and waits like a lion to attack.

    Comment by LTR — June 8, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  13. @Mike Kennedy: “These people are embarrassing idiots.” June 8, 2012 according to his Facebook post on the Stop the Recall Fan Page.

    You wanna know why people don’t support you, why people want you removed as a representative, you now have your answer, Mr.Kennedy! You don’t deserve to be a Representative of this City!

    If you haven’t signed the Recall Petition, do it soon. Time is running out, you have a chance to take back McEuen!

    Comment by lexacon — June 8, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  14. Fiftysmtg,

    It is not Susan Weathers’ job to handle the recall process. Her only statutorily prescribed duties were to approve the form of the prospective petition and to “promptly” turn over the completed petitions to the County Clerk. She has been doing much more than the law authorizes to try and protect Bloem, Kennedy, McEvers, and Goodlander from the voters.

    Comment by Bill — June 8, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

  15. Funny how Mike Kennedy’s Facebook rant calling the Recall CdA people “embarassing idiots” has been deleted.

    Comment by Fiftysmtg — June 8, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  16. Kennedy’s “idiot” remark sure has been deleted.

    Comment by LTR — June 8, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

  17. Wonder who’s the “idiot” now. Must have gotten some knuckles rapped.

    Comment by reddy — June 8, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

  18. Ms. Weathers is not a very nice person. Ask those who work for her. Overpaid, arrogant, and difficult.

    Comment by jayhump — June 9, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  19. Wishing all the best tomorrow as the signatures are turned in and verified over the coming days.
    Hopefully there won’t be too many “embarrassing idiots” who signed, knowing they weren’t eligible to vote on this.

    Comment by reddy — June 10, 2012 @ 9:28 am

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