6 1/2 hours of fun. That’s what you missed last night if you didn’t attend the CdA City Council meeting or watch it on Channel 19. The Agenda was way too heavy— poor planning by the City Administrator—the meeting didn’t end until about 12:30 am.
I was present until after Public Comments, then watched from home until I had to leave for the airport. Here are the highlights, including some you won’t see reported anywhere else:
–Two separate citizens suggested that the parking garage be put on hold and its $7 million allotment go to pay for the “extra” items in the park, while using the new parking south of City Hall, the new diagonal parking on Front Street and developing parking north of Sherman, where LCDC already owns land for this purpose. This good idea received no comment from the Council.
–After all was said…and believe me, a lot was said…the price tag on McEuen has gone up by $6.9 million. (not the figure that was in this morning’s Press headline, that was just LCDC’s portion). The NEW BOTTOM LINE = $21 million.
–City Administrator Wendy Gabriel was slick-talking when she claimed that “no new taxes will be created to pay for this project.” Hasn’t that phrase changed over the last year? First it was “no taxpayer money will be used” (but LCDC is taxpayer money), then it changed to “your taxes will not go up”(but they want to rob dollars from future city budgets and use the Rainy Day Fund, both of which must be replaced, so our taxes will have to go up) and now it’s “no new taxes will be created”. Bunch of bunk.
–The Mayor was proud that they are “only” up to $21 million. She said, “We all have to step up to the plate.”
–I almost laughed out loud when City Attorney Mike Gridley gave an incredibly flowery PR presentation on “Coeur d’Alene 2020”, and talked extensively about Bend, Oregon’s fabulous community-involved 2030 planning program. He showed a “visioning” video and suggested that CdA consider that kind of intense citizen participation project here. This, from our city that wouldn’t even let the public have a vote—not even a non-binding advisory vote—on a massive “visioning” and spending project called McEuen Park. A little hypocritical, wouldn’t you say? I would love to have our city leaders be as concerned about the public’s opinion as seems to be the case in Bend, but I’m not buying this sudden change in attitude from our City Hall.
–Councilman Mike Kennedy was waiting with a trap for School District Chairman Tom Hamilton, who attends our City Council meetings when Person Field is to be discussed. (In fact almost all the district Trustees were present last night, which I thought was great but, as Tom pointed out, only Dan Gookin and Steve Adams have attended the School Board’s meetings about the park.) When Tom Hamilton came to the podium to correct a point of information about the Person Field negotiations, Mike Kennedy pounced. He gleefully produced a paper he had prepared and read from it comments Tom had posted on his own private Facebook site about the McEuen Park project. (Nothing foul. Tom called it “McScrew-um” Park and said something about Woody being washed up from the 70’s). Kennedy went off on it and admonished Tom. Mike reread the page again and wouldn’t let it go. And the Mayor, whose job it is to run the meetings, said nothing. (Did she know about this ahead of time?) Finally Ron Edinger had to speak up and ask the Mayor to move the meeting along. So much for inter-agency relationships in the City of Excellence.
–Dan Gookin made some great points last night. He said McEuen should have gone to the voters as a Bond election to begin with because then the funding would be set and the community would be united behind the project. He said Urban Renewal was never intended to be the city’s “Bank” for pet projects. On the topic of Person Field, Dan made a motion to hold a public, televised meeting of the City and the School District to discuss the project and see if some agreement can be reached. The motion passed, so now that invitation will go to the District.
–The $33.5 million dollar Wastewater Treatment Plant update will go to a judge for confirmation as “ordinary and necessary”, rather than go to a Bond election. The judge will probably approve it but if not it will go to a public vote.
–Our water rates are going up. (Just another drip, drip, drip in the draining of our wallets. Pun intended.)
–I’ll tell you about the LID (Local Improvement District) for Front Street after it’s decided by the council on Jan. 15th. They discussed it last night and there were some interesting comments from developer Steve Meyer and some residents of the condo towers.
–And so it goes. But I wanted to leave you an interesting story about a man I have neither met nor heard of, who held the Mayor+3 in serious discomfort for a while last night. This gentleman is in a wheelchair, so he was welcomed to make his public comments at the City Attorney’s microphone on a low table. Everyone making public comment gets 5 minutes and there’s a huge projection screen that shows their time counting down. This man started out with a brief reference to the city’s spending on McEuen and then connected it into the Recall effort. He supported the Recall, he said. Then he spent the next 5 minutes talking about the Recall and how he analyzed the data and is convinced it was “politically squashed” on purpose. He referred to the Sec. of State as “Ben” and reminded the Mayor+3 that there were “150% more people who signed to recall them than elected them.” He talked only about the Recall and detailed the many changes and inequities in the rules set by “Ben”. He made some very good points. The time counted down. The screen said “Your time has expired, thank you for your comments” But he kept talking. Normally the Mayor would cut the person off and make them stop, but she didn’t say a word. Neither did Wendy or anyone else. They were probably afraid of looking politically incorrect. His comments were finally complete at about 10 minutes. Bravo, sir. Thank you. That made my night.
Have a great weekend!