We are seriously out of balance in North Idaho. The City has reached new heights of dysfunction and is teetering on the brink of self-made chaos, and a new political action committee has announced their intention to bring more “balance” to our local school board, hospital board and city council elections. The problem is they are not as balanced as they’d like you to think; they seem to lean heavily in one direction.
Let’s start with the Balance North Idaho group first, and then I’ll tell you about the latest city drama, starring Mayor Bloem and her raised fist.
The Balance group announced itself last week and was enthusiastically promoted by the Press in an editorial on Wednesday. “Balance is beautiful” said the Press. The group claims their mission is to “endorse and promote candidates and issues in local non-partisan elections.” They state they want people who are fiscally responsible.
So I looked up the board members of this group and almost fell off my chair. These people seem to have one very big thing in common, and it’s not balance. They do NOT want the public to have a vote!
Co-founders Eden Irgens and Sara Meyer were both highly outspoken AGAINST any kind of public vote on the McEuen Park project. They worked hard to make sure you and I could not have a voice. Sara was also a co-founder of the Anti-Recall group which again worked to make sure the people of CdA did not get a vote on whether or not to retain the Mayor and 3 of the city council members. Eden came up with the “Decline to Sign” motto. Maybe the new Balance group will try “Decline to Vote”.
Balance board member Mic Armon was on the NIC Board of Trustees when decisions were being made regarding the Education Corridor. I asked Mic, in person back then, why the NIC board was not putting the purchase of the 17 acre property near the sewage treatment plant to a Bond election where the public could vote. Mic told me “because we were told it wouldn’t pass”. Is it “balanced” to deny people a vote if you’re not sure it will pass?
And the Balance group says it wants “fiscally responsible” people? The $10 million dollar Ed Corridor land was not put to a public Bond, the repayment of which could have been stretched out over a long period. Instead they took Foregone Taxes, costing taxpayers instantly more year after year forever, and they also pulled a backdoor, probably illegal, financing deal with the private NIC Foundation. Fiscally responsible?…I don’t think so.
The City’s development of the originally $40 million, down to $12 million, up to $14 million and now over $20 million dollar McEuen Park project, without any kind of public vote, was that fiscally responsible?
So the Balance group is way off kilter, in my opinion. Things are not always what they seem.
And on that same note, the Mayor of CdA has long kept a controlled exterior during council proceedings. But the last Tuesday she lost it after the meeting. Councilman Steve Adams and City Attorney Mike Gridley were having words after the very late completion the council meeting. Here’s what Steve Adams described in his press release on this topic. You won’t believe what he says the Mayor said and did:
“While still in the community room after last night’s city council meeting, City Attorney Mik“e Gridley approached me and asked if I was going to provide him with a copy of the ethics complaint I filed against him. I told him the Idaho State Bar would likely send him a copy with a request to respond. He then proceeded to get in my face and told me I was a “moron”. I asked him If he was threatening me, he said no, but that in 30 years of practicing law he had never had anyone make a complaint against him, and again he told me I was “moron”. He was still in my face at this point, just inches away, leaning in on me. I again asked if he was threatening me and he said no, but that I could “fu** off you stupid moron.” At this point I grabbed my cell phone and called 911 to ask for officer assistance as I perceived this as an assault. Mr. Gridley walked away saying he was going to his office and then home. I walked through the library and into the ante room where the Mayor, Mike Kennedy, Deanna Goodlander, Wendy Gabriel and Jon Ingalls were standing. Mike Kennedy told me I should calm down. I told him about the exchange I had with Mr. Gridley and he responded with surprise and expressed dissatisfaction. I turned to the Mayor and pointed at her exclaiming that she should take disciplinary action against Mr. Gridley. She told me not to point at her, so I apologized for pointing. She then said not only would she not be disciplining Mr. Gridley but, raising her fist at me, she said she had half a mind to “punch my nose off of my face.”
For the City Attorney to verbally assault me, twice now, with inflammatory and derogatory comments, is a violation of his attorney code of ethics and, according to the city’s personnel rules, is insubordination. I call for his immediate termination.
Mayor Bloem’s actions are unprofessional, disrespectful and definitely unbecoming for the Mayor. I demand an apology.” –Steve Adams
The next day, in the Press, Mike Gridley called Steve Adams “unstable” and used that as a reason for not responding further to any questions.
Please remember that, whether or not you agree with Steve Adams on the legal issues surrounding the wastewater upgrade, Steve has never used improper language or threats of bodily harm in any of his dealings with the City. It has been Attorney Gridley and the Mayor who are unstable and out of control.
An alert reader sent me a very good article about bullying in the workplace, which is what I think is going on in City Hall. To read it you can click here.
And finally, as yet one more sign that City Hall is over the edge, they appear to have lied about the Freedom Tree. During last Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Dan Gookin asked about the Freedom Tree and requested that there be a respectful decommissioning ceremony before the tree is cut down. Mike Kennedy interrupted him to say there would be and the Mayor agreed.
The 40 year old Freedom Tree was scheduled to be cut down this morning at 10 am, according to the city’s PR notice. But the tree was actually cut down an hour early, at 9am, with no one around except the workmen, and no ceremony of any kind.
We need honesty and integrity as well as balance. A little common courtesy would go a long way too.
Have a great weekend. –Mary
Mary Souza is a 26 year resident of CdA, local small business owner and former P&Z Commissioner. Her opinions are her own. To sign up for the free weekly newsletter, or access a free archive of past columns, visit www.marysouzacda.com Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit the local issues web site www.OpenCdA.com for more discussion.