January 30, 2013

Open Letter to Mike Gridley

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 10:11 am

Mary Souza’s Newsletter  -1
Two days ago, CdA City Attorney,Mike Gridley emailed me an invitation to be part of the special breakfast meeting for his Vision CdA 2030 group.  A reporter from the Press emailed me moments later for a comment. So I decided the best way to respond was with an open letter to Mr. Gridley, fully explaining my reasons for turning down his invitation.  And the Press Editor was willing and able to find room to print my letter as a My Turn column in yesterday’s paper.  I thought you might like to read it too:

Dear Mr. Gridley,

Today I received your invitation to be part of the Visioning CdA 2030 group. While I appreciate the consideration, I am choosing not attend.  In order to be polite and helpful, however, I will openly explain my reasons for not participating at this time.

Planning is good.  Involving citizens is good. Vision is good.  But your timing could not be worse. 

1. The citizens of Coeur d’Alene have just had a massive “visioning” project  called McEuen Park rammed down their throats, and it was done without the Public Advisory Vote that more than half the regular voters here repeatedly and adamantly requested.

2. How could any of us forget the Recall CdA effort last spring, when significantly more valid, registered voters signed the Recall than originally voted to elect Mayor Bloem and Council members Goodlander, Kennedy and McEvers.  By changing the rules three times, the City managed to politically quash the Recall, but the Mayor still refused a Public Advisory Vote and kept pushing her own agenda.

3. Promises by this City Administration have been broken time and time again.  The latest pledge was the McEuen budget limit at $14.2 million, which has now grown past $20 million.

4. The City has huge liabilities staring the taxpayers in the face:  The Dixon Police Department lawsuit is likely to cost over $4 million.  The Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade will be $33 million.  Storm water fees have now returned under a new name.  The Dike Road reconstruction will cost more than $1.5 million.  And the list goes on.

5. After a City employee embezzled $365,000 of public money, it was discovered she had a past conviction of felony embezzlement, but no one else at the City was held accountable for any part of the problem.

Without honest, responsive and accountable government, there is no trust. And without trust, how can any visioning effort be sincere? That’s our problem in CdA right now. The citizens have been ignored, disrespected and abused.  We don’t trust our city. Now, suddenly, comes a visioning exercise? Is this an move to soften the damages done by the McEuen fiasco in preparation for this November’s City election where Mayor Bloem, Deanna Goodlander, Mike Kennedy and Woody McEvers will have to face the voters?

I have a vision too, Mr. Gridley.  Mine is not a vision for 2030, mine is a vision for November 5, 2013, when the voters will finally have a say.  My hope is for a new, respectful, honest, accountable city government.  And when the newly elected officials earn the trust of the citizens, by sincerely listening and keeping their promises, then it will be the right time to come together and plan for our future.

With hope for CdA,

Mary Souza

And so, dear readers, the quest for good government goes on!  I have one more important request for you:  If you are in agreement with my last newsletter, that Idaho should NOT set up the Obamacare health insurance Exchanges and should join the other 25 states who are resisting, please sign the online petition at the Idaho Freedom Foundation. I don’t sign online petitions very often, but this one is just for our state and I trust the Idaho Freedom Foundation because I know many of them and they do such good work here.  Click here to go to their petition:

Have a great rest of the week.  –Mary


  1. Mary,

    You were absolutely right to not be suckered into this.

    To your list of five items demonstrating the untrustworthiness of some city officials, I would add a sixth item: This Mayor and the City Administrator knowingly withheld information from our elected council members, information which was time-sensitive and which the council members needed so they could deliberate and vote on the Person Field issue. The City Administrator Wendy Gabriel accepted responsibility for that. Gabriel is not too bright, but she is bright enough to know that if she had acted unilaterally and without Mayoral approval, she would have been fired. Therefore, I conclude she had the approval of the Mayor to withhold time-sensitive, critical financial information from some if not all members of the City Council. In my view, her action deprived Coeur d’Alene voters of the honest services of our duly elected council members. Yet she remains employed.

    The City’s effort to involve you and other critics was a very transparent attempt to enable them to say that regardless of what “visions” might be recommended, you and the others were on board with it. Your participation would have been touted as an endorsement of whatever “visions” the City intends to foist on its citizens. You can be absolutely certain that your denials would have been unreported or under-reported by the Coeur d’Alene Press and The Spokesman-Review skewspapers.

    Comment by Bill — January 30, 2013 @ 11:16 am

  2. I have been wrestling with this Obamacare – going back and forth and back again.

    After my quote from Blue Cross of Idaho, I am absolutely certain that an exchange set up in Idaho will not work, so I say give it to the feds and Idaho should stay out of it. I don’t want to be forced to join the Idaho exchange if it were to come to that. It is pretty obvious that any planning will result in a shoddy money grab while the getting is good and eventually it will fail and they will bail out and hand it over to the feds anyway. I don’t think they are ready for the attempt so they should bow out gracefully.

    So, I am going to sign Hoffman’s petition.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 30, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

  3. Stebbijo

    It a government proposition. Of course there will be a money grab. Look at CdA. Look at California. Look at any good idea gone government.

    Comment by concerned citizen — January 30, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

  4. I know concerned citizen – I am not going to like the federal exchange either – but if we do not comply I do not know how folks are going to fight the IRS when they garnish and take their checks. I don’t deal with Idaho medical – I go to Washington – Washington never expects payment from Idaho. Social workers cringe when they get Idaho Medicaid. It’s a mess no matter what – and the sting is going to be for folks who cannot afford insurance now or any more funds taken from their checks. It’s only going to help those who can afford to pay and if employers do not help then poverty level incomes are going to be giving the most and getting nothing back. I agree that it is going to be very bad – so I hope we can undo Obama on the next election and just go back to the way we were – bankruptcy is a better option than the IRS taking control over our taxes/income by proving health insurance. Just wrong.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 30, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

  5. I just got off the phone with Steve Bell. He and I have worked on several public projects together and have always been friendly, so I called him. I asked him if he knows Brent Regan. He said, “Not at all, I wouldn’t know him from Adam.” So I told him that I do know Brent, and that he’s a good guy, not racist at all and a man of high integrity. I went on to explain to Steve that Brent is extremely smart, and is a very successful inventor ( he and his father invented the cardiac stent, just one in the long list of Brent’s accomplishments). Sometimes very smart people see things differently, I said to Steve, and they don’t always realize how regular people interpret the same info. He never thought the comment was racist but he realized that others may have taken it that way and he has apologized. Steve would not accept that perhaps he jumped to judgement without any information except what he read in the media.

    Comment by mary — January 30, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

  6. Why are we discussing which of the exchanges, Federal or State, we should choose. There is a third choice, no exchange at all. What’s the manner with telling the Feds, “No thank you”? Why should there be just two alternatives in the discussion? Get government out of the health care loop. Let individuals get the insurance where they want, how they want, when they want.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — January 31, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  7. You’re so right,Ancient. The third, and in my opinion best, option is to resist Obamacare exchanges, whether set up by the state or the Feds, and create our own system here in Idaho. This is not a naive pipe dream; there’s a plan already put together that has been presented to the Legislature and the Governor. I’ve read it and think it has great potential. It allows individuals to control many more of the decisions about their health care dollars.

    Comment by mary — January 31, 2013 @ 8:08 am

  8. No exchange is an option and Idaho can refuse to play at all.

    But here lies the problem, it is called the IRS if you do not comply. Figure out how to get out of that one – not going to happen.

    I don’t want Idaho’s system – they do not have one in place now that can work and never will. We have a primary health care “plan” right now that is very affordable and only one doctor’s office in the state will sign on. Washington including Rockwood doctors are all over it to help those who cannot afford full blown coverage. Why? Well, my guess is they want more money. That plan would work if some insurance mafia folks would just pony up a decent hospitalization program – keep primary care and hospitalization separate.

    Really, the only answer is to put up with it until we get a President who can undo the damage if it can be undone. Just leave things the way they are.

    Comment by Stebbijo — January 31, 2013 @ 8:57 am

  9. Mary,

    The way I see it – you already started the “visioning” process with wanting accountable decision-makers and elected officials.

    There are three simple steps to any Plan: 1) What you want accomplished, 2) Why you want to accomplish that goal, and, 3) How to implement the underlying goal. With the invitation from Gridley comes another “step” – why is the City asking you now?

    Your work, especially over these last few years has gone to bone of the matter – How to implement a (or any) Plan. I too would have tuned down an invitation under this administration – it wouldn’t have mattered how profound, cost effective, or beneficial your ideas would be, they would be spun and used against anyone seeking election who agreed with your ideas (whether or not you were affiliated).

    Lastly, why is Gridley sending the invitation? He is the City’s top legal dog, not a Planner, not an Engineer, not an elected official, etc. Is he even a designated department head with the authority to invite you into his “visioning” process?

    Let’s get real, the City has all but hired a consultant – a consultant who is to be paid 2/3rds of his contract by “stateholders.” Regardless of your or any other persons involvement, what do think the outcome will be when the process and product is paid for by private parties? The process is already flawed.

    Comment by old dog — January 31, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  10. old dog,

    I don’t know the terms of Gridley’s employment with the city, however most employees have a position or job description that defines their duties and responsibilities. It exists to protect the employee from being required to perform duties beyond the scope of his employment. It protects the employer and the taxpayer from liability resulting from an employee who may make his employer liable for the employees’ actions exceeding the limits of his legal authority and training.

    Comment by Bill — January 31, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

  11. Thanks Bill,

    Although, my question was somewhat rhetorical, yet regardless of his presumed authority to publicly invite anyone to the planning table, why is the City’s Attorney sending out letters related to long-range planning issues?

    Got to wonder who else was invited by Gridley, Bloem, et al. And who are the “stakeholders” willing to foot two-thirds of the cost? How did the “stakeholders” get picked – was that through legal services, Goodlander, Bloem, Kennedy, Duane, or just one of those random acts of kindness from disinterested parties?

    The very fact that unnamed “stakeholders” are willing to pay the lions share to establish a base from which other, more detailed analysis will be evaluated sounds like the tobacco industry writing health regulations. I would like to see the other letters the City sent-out, and who the stakeholders are who propose to pay 2/3 of the cost. Or to back-step, how did this “Visioning 2030” get initiated in the first place?

    When building a house, if the foundation is on faulty ground the rest will come down. When and how then becomes the question.

    Comment by old dog — January 31, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

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