OpenCDA

October 27, 2015

Late to the Party

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:50 am

EDITBOARDYep.  Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper publisher Jim Thompson and editor Mike Patrick certainly appear to OpenCdA to be waaaaay late to the urban renewal agency examination party.

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, the Press editorial was entitled Another urban renewal question mark.

The Press editorial board editorially questioned the wisdom of the city’s urban renewal agency, ignite cda and its executive director tony berns-o-matic, giving $15,000 of the public’s money to an enterprise in which Coeur d’Alene City Councilman Kiki Miller has a significant interest.

We’re cautiously encouraged to see the Press show signs of awakening from its journalistic lethargy and start paying closer attention to what an unelected body of handpicked cronies have been inflicting on the city using other people’s (your taxpayer) money .  However don’t you wonder why the Press didn’t report this information as news over a year ago when it floated to the surface at the LCDC meetings on October 15, 2014 (beginning at page 5, item 6.B.)  and November 19, 2014 (beginning at page 4, item 7.A.)?  Why now editorially rather than a year ago when it would have been news?

After watching the videos and then reading the minutes of those two LCDC meetings in October and November 2014, OpenCdA did this public records request to the LCDC on December 3, 2014.  This is the email exchange that followed with LCDC Executive Director Tony Berns.  It is displayed in reverse chronological order, so it must be read from the last message on page 3 upward through the first message on page 1.  Berns promptly complied with our request for information and timely provided copies of material we requested.

The meetings’ videos and minutes were informative and somewhat surprising.

First, at the October 15, 2014, meeting, presenter NIFG Board Member Director Candace Godwin was dismally unprepared or unwilling to answer some appropriate questions.  Remember, she was there representing the NIFG Board of Directors in asking the LCDC to give the North Idaho Family Group a $15,000 grant (“grant” = “gift” of public money) so LCDC could be listed as a “Visionary Partner” on the NIFG website.  But when asked who was on the NIFG Board of Directors, she said she would provide that information later to the LCDC Board.  Why later?  Isn’t that a pretty reasonable question Godwin should have expected and been prepared to answer at this public meeting?  Godwin is herself a Board Director, yet she was unable to recite who her fellow directors were.

This information about the NIFG Board was provided by LCDC in response to our public records request referenced above.

Part of our public records request was for emails.  These email exchanges between Berns and Councilman Miller pertain to Godwin’s preparation for the LCDC meeting on October 15.  Note that in her email on October 1, 2014, Councilman Kiki Miller states, “I’ll assure she’s [Godwin] prepared and diligent.”  OpenCdA would have assumed that preparation would have included providing the identity of NIFG Board members.  We also found it interesting that email exchange between Berns and Miller reflects that Berns helped Miller edit the presentation, “… tailoring it a bit to an LCDC audience.”

Second, the minutes of the October 15, 2014, LCDC meeting contain this:

is nifg a 501c3 yes

Reading the minutes as approved, it is reasonable for someone to assume that an unqualified “yes” was Godwin’s answer.  It was not.  Her entire answer can be seen in the video.   In summary, her answer was that NIFG had either already received the exemption determination letter from IRS or would soon get it.  We believe that the LCDC’s minutes incorrectly represented Godwin’s answer and could be misinterpreted.

Here is the October 30, 2014, letter which Mary Cameron,  paralegal to attorney Shirley Bade, provided to NIFG concerning the NIFG’s request for federal non-profit status.  The letter clearly shows that the final determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service had not been received on October 15, 2014, by NIFG.   Had she been properly prepared, Godwin would have known that and should have explained the application process and provided the LCDC with an explanation of what the Internal Revenue Code allows NIFG to represent or not represent to prospective contributors before the final determination letter is received.  The LCDC minutes should have reflected that explanation had it been offered.  But an inaccurate “yes” appears neater and tidier in the LCDC’s minutes, and in Coeur d’Alene appearances are everything.

It’s our view that after seeing NIFG Director Godwin’s embarrassingly poor presentation on October 15, it would have been completely appropriate for the LCDC to thank Godwin and the NIFG and then exercise some level of fiduciary responsibility and decline to waste the public’s money on this poorly conceived project.  Instead, this:

Colwell suggestion LCDC

The “further information” Colwell suggested was what a responsible, prepared organization would have already presented at the October 15 meeting.  You know, stuff like budget data, NIFG Board membership, and a long-term plan.

So why didn’t the LCDC simply reject this request for this $15,000 grant (remember, in LCDC-speak “grant” = “gift”) of your money?  What distinguished NIFG from other poorly-prepared and unsupported plans the LCDC has rejected?  Even after LCDC Executive Director Tony Berns had helpfully edited some of NIFG’s presentation material as noted above to grease the skids for Godwin, the NIFG’s presentation was completely unconvincing.  Yet the LCDC seemed intent on giving away a gift of $15,000 of your tax dollars to help fund an organization of questionable value but conceived by Coeur d’Alene City Councilman Kiki Miller.

Third, the video of the November 19, 2014, LCDC meeting clearly has Commissioner Davis referring to Miller as “Councilman Miller” during some preliminary conversation.  Why did Davis consider mentioning her position as a Coeur d’Alene City Councilman relevant to the application?  But since he did, why didn’t the LCDC Commissioners bother to discuss in depth how it could look if it gave a gift of $15,000 of other people’s money to a Coeur d’Alene City Councilman’s pet project?

Fourth, a review of the NIFG website homepage reflects its “Visionary Partners” on the date of this OpenCdA post include:

VisionaryPartners

Readers will recall that the “Visionary Partner” designation is conferred by NIFG after receiving a donation or pledge totaling $15,000 during a two year period.  The October 15 LCDC minutes report:

Visionary Partner Godwin

OpenCdA observes that some of the listed “Visionary Partners” already have financial (renewable contract) arrangements and other business dealings with the City of Coeur d’Alene.

OpenCdA seriously challenges the propriety of Councilman Kiki Miller being involved in any city Council deliberations or decisions involving any of her NIFG organization’s “Visionary Partners.”   While appearing to distance herself from any direct financial benefit from NIFG, the unmistakable impression left with outside observers is that a Coeur d’Alene City Councilman certainly has an emotional if not financial investment in the NIFG.  Some of those observers may well be inclined to donate in hopes that Councilman Miller will remember their “Visionary Partner” donation if and when the observers make a request to Council to do business with the City of Coeur d’Alene.

As we said earlier, we’re happy to see our local skews paper finally paying attention, even if it’s only to offer a stale and belated editorial opinion instead of timely hard news.   Then again, if by chance something significant, factual,  and credible happened to accidentally slip into a Press news story, it just might attract unwanted outside attention.   While editorial comment may give local citizens the illusion of hard-hitting journalism by the Press, the fact is that no outsiders are likely to pick up on editorial comment without timely, fact-based, complete news stories to back it up.

So as we often do, we ask, “Then why now?  Why has the Press suddenly begun paying attention to the conduct of LCDC/ignite cda?”

Well, for one thing, Councilman Miller’s soliciting funds from entities who do business with the City can create an appearance that NIFG donors may get special favorable consideration during the Council’s deliberation and voting.  That’s the appearance, a possible perception by the public, and we would have hoped that Councilman Kiki Miller would have been astute enough to realize the damage even a misperception can cause the City’s reputation.   We were wrong — obviously she wasn’t that astute at all.

OpenCdA believes certain Coeur d’Alene business interests may be genuinely concerned about the attention the Legislature is finally paying to the abuses of urban renewal throughout the state and certainly in Coeur d’Alene.  For almost a decade several citizen activists throughout the state have tried with little success to get officials to pay attention to some of the existing and potential abuses of urban renewal created by vulnerabilities written into the state’s urban renewal laws.

In Coeur d’Alene, those citizens included some who were maligned and denigrated at the time for efforts to examine the actions of the Lake City Development Corporation, now known as ignite cda.  But now some of those citizens have been elected to public office, and two of them, Senator Mary Souza and Representative Kathy Sims, are not only serving in the Legislature but have been appointed to the Legislature’s Urban Renewal Interim Committee.

While we think that scrutiny is long overdue,  we understand why certain local businesses and their owners would not welcome outside scrutiny, particularly from federal agencies which can recognize and investigate public corruption.  But to be perfectly candid, we don’t think those local businesses and their owners need to be too  concerned.  Given the apparent disinclination of our present US Attorney to aggressively pursue crimes amounting to official corruption in Idaho, we think the facts associated with the smell emanating from the urban renewal garbage dump fire remain contained safely inside the Coeur d’Alene Press tipi with only occasional wisps of editorial smoke escaping.

But you never know …

25 Comments

  1. How this kind of stuff remains legal still floors me. Reforming an URD to elect or appoint board members will not solve the problem in my opinion, which really does not mean a whole heck of lot. The potential for abuse remains and we do not need this “shadow government” to perk up areas that lend to increased tourism and jobs that do not provide state benefits as in the Kroc Center. The money needs to go into services that the city provides or taxes could be lowered or rebated back to the taxpayer aka customer! Flower baskets are not a symptom of “blight” … it really just reeks. But, while the money and legislation remains in the control of business stake holders, the little guy is forced to throw their hard earned dollars into this kind of ridiculousness. And, if the feds think it is okay, well … we are seriously in a dump of toxic waste. While I commend Senator Mary Souza and Representative Kathy Sims in trying to make a difference, I believe their attempts at reform will fail, the entire concept needs to go out the door. Both of them need to be voicing their concerns to the DA’s office. The URD we have here, is nothing but formal and legalized theft of our taxpayer dollars without representation. What we have here, may not represent other areas of this state. It is reprehensible, and this kind of crap screams class action lawsuit.

    Comment by Stebbijo — October 27, 2015 @ 9:12 pm

  2. Stebbijo,

    Unfortunately the state’s urban renewal laws were adopted likely with good intentions but absolutely by legislators who adamantly refused to ask a simple question: What in these laws could a dishonest elected or appointed public official or other citizen exploit for illegal personal gain? They failed to ask that question because they were and still are unwilling to even consider that some of their constituents and even some of their fellow citizen legislators were and are dishonest people who put their personal economic, social, and political gain ahead of their duty to use public funds honestly and diligently for public benefit.

    Once adopted, though, laws can not and should not be easily repealed or even amended without substantial verifiable evidence that repeal or amendment is necessary. Once enacted, a law is presumed to be both lawful and constitutional until proven otherwise in court. Once enacted, most people (though certainly not all) will make an effort to follow the law. They may even incur obligations as a result of the law’s enactment. Repealing or even amending the law will have an effect on those who relied on the law, followed it, and incurred obligations as a result of their reliance. Legislators need to remember this when they’re considering new laws and amending or repealing old ones.

    In characterizing our urban renewal agencies and the legislators who blindly supported them, I often refer to the cartoon character J. Wellington Wimpy from the cartoon strip Popeye. Wimpy was almost always drawn with a hamburger in his hand, and his signature promise was, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Of course, Tuesday would come and Wimpy was nowhere to be found to be held accountable for his promised payoff. Wimpy may have been well-intentioned, but he was also a bit of a scam artist, a snake oil salesman.

    But Wimpy could only be successful because people were willing to take him at his word without seriously questioning whether he really had either the intention or the ability to fulfill his promised repayment on a future Tuesday. That’s the problem with our urban renewal agencies: They promise a big payoff when the URDs expire, but of course most of the urban renewal commissioners and the snake-oil salesmen who pitched the promise of free money to them will not be there to be held personally accountable for any broken promises.

    You mentioned that our elected representatives should voice their concerns to prosecutors. Criminal prosecution can and should result only when an unlawful act has been provably committed or when a lawful act has been provably committed unlawfully. It is not the job of prosecutors to remedy badly written laws. It is the job of the citizens and the courts to make legislators aware of badly written laws with sufficient precision and clarity so as to enable legislators to make appropriate corrections to the laws. Of course, if the legislators have neither the political will nor the intellectual skill to correct statutory vulnerabilities, it is the citizens who elected them that pay the price.

    Comment by Bill — October 28, 2015 @ 6:15 am

  3. I understand that the URD laws were concocted by our Legislature and it will take massive amounts of energy to fix it if they ever do, unlike our open meeting or public records laws … that did not take much effort to ruin.

    My point is that any reasonable citizen can see this stuff as an attack on their own taxpayer dollars and while our Legislature may not be able get it corrected … making it even more legal by electing board members is not the answer, it will essentially result in a rubber stamp by the people, because we were given no real options. The test in my opinion is a class action lawsuit, and I do not have a doubt the suit would have hundreds if not thousands of followers from this area that might want their name on that complaint.

    The citizens were clearly DUPED in the drafting of the URD laws and as a result, we continue to get hammered with it’s abuses. We certainly have a right to change our minds after seeing how this stuff works. After all, our own legislature even gets DUPED … re: horse gaming machines. I want the money back into the hands of the city council where the people actually have a voice to help manage the funds.

    Comment by Stebbijo — October 28, 2015 @ 7:34 am

  4. Another thought, and maybe less threatening … can the citizens in this area draft an initiative and force the city to disband the URD club?

    Comment by Stebbijo — October 28, 2015 @ 7:48 am

  5. Stebbijo,

    I doubt our Legislature actually wrote the urban renewal laws it passed. It appears we ended up with a cut-and-paste job cobbled together from other states’ laws. To whatever extent the legislators read and understood what it was they were passing, I also suspect that the legislators looked only at what they thought the benefits would be without wanting to even consider the potential for harm.

    I’m not convinced that municipal government has any business at all trying to use “urban renewal” for economic development. The city has a legitimate interest in overall economic development, because it costs money (taxes, fees) to administer city government and provide city services. However, it is not the city’s business to influence which lawful economic enterprises succeed and which ones fail. When urban renewal proponents make statements such as, “Urban renewal is the only tool for economic development available in Idaho,” they insult both private enterprises and government. That implies the people in a community are lazy and unimaginative and must depend on the White Knights of the URA to save them from economic doom. That strikes me as asking Dr. Jack Kevorkian to prescribe something to help me sleep.

    Comment by Bill — October 28, 2015 @ 8:07 am

  6. Stebbijo,

    I don’t know the answer to the question you asked in 4.

    Comment by Bill — October 28, 2015 @ 8:11 am

  7. Everyone should be cautious, not encouraged. Congratulations should not be given to someone just for doing something until the ‘why’ the Press chose to make a comment now is discovered. In my opinion the Press is simply a promotional tool for whatever the Hagadone corporate interests may be–short and long term. I suggest that history shows that its interests are not determined day to day but rather decade to decade. An initial and small step today could in reality be nothing more than a building block towards an unstated goal to be achieved 5-10 years in the future. For example, on June 4, 2015, the Press quoted John Barlow, with regard to the “new tower”, that “This is something we’ve [Hagadone] been planning since 2006 and 2007.” In my opinion, until such time as a daily, or at least weekly, newspaper competitor is on area doorsteps, Cda area residents will be subjected to ‘reporting’ and ‘editorials’ whose sole purpose is to fool most of the people all of the time in order to further the Hagadone corporate agenda.

    Comment by Tributary — October 28, 2015 @ 8:35 am

  8. Tributary,

    Your opinion expressed in the last sentence sums it up very nicely.

    Comment by Bill — October 28, 2015 @ 9:38 am

  9. A few weeks later at the city council meeting I commented on the lcdc grant to Mrs. Miller. I think her response was that counsel told her it was okay as she was not gaining financially. I think that Mr. Gridley stated something similar.

    To me, it doesn’t seem appropriate that an elected official should request funds from other governmental/educational facilities funded with tax monies.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — October 28, 2015 @ 6:16 pm

  10. Susie,

    I am absolutely unsurprised that some legal counsel in Idaho would tell her it was okay as she was not gaining financially. Just as I am unsurprised that would satisfy her. I hope, but doubt, that whoever advised her also explained just how far-reaching the term “gaining financially” can be. I would remind readers that every inmate sitting in a federal prison was given advice by competent legal counsel — and that inmate is still sitting in prison. In fact, it’s worth mentioning that some of those inmates are themselves former attorneys who presumed themselves to be smarter and more clever than the citizens selected for the jury which convicted them.

    It is absolutely inappropriate for an elected public official to solicit public money from any entity that conducts financial transactions with that official’s public agency. It is also absolutely inappropriate for a public official to solicit money from a separate body politic whose voting members are subject to approval or disapproval by the soliciting public official’s body. But, this is Idaho, so …

    Comment by Bill — October 28, 2015 @ 6:53 pm

  11. I often exaggerate a situation to better understand it. In this case I asked myself what I would think if ALL City Councilmen and the Mayor formed separate non-profit corps. and all of them requested and received annual grants from LCDC – how would that make me feel? And then what if not all who requested grants did not get them? It is obvious they don’t have uniform criteria, so how would they decide?

    With regard to conflict of interest – The City has always summarily dismissed conflict because there was “no direct financial gain”, which is the easy interpretation. But, there is a growing body of case law that has concluded that loss of trust in a public official can be construed as a conflict of interest because the official has disrupted the general welfare of the citizenry to which they are bound by office to promote – regardless of the official’s net financial gain or loss. At the rate the city is going, won’t surprise me if it gets tested here too.

    And in response to Trib – Your comment about how far out corporations like Duanes’s plan ahead (5-10 yrs.) is a bit off. He at least has a 5-10-15-20 year plan(s)–nothing “just happens” at that level of development – especially when you own the “news”.

    Comment by Old Dog — October 28, 2015 @ 8:31 pm

  12. When stuff starts to irritate me, like this stuff … I always comeback to one solution and that is a lawsuit. It is like the sole remedy to anything in this state and then, that sometimes does not work. However, I decided to look at the statutes and I was really floored, again. I think our legislature knew exactly what they were doing, they literally created a mafia/mob to siphon our taxes into their own ‘gravy fund’ … depending on the interpretation of “blight” and or what deems to be a “workable program”, the URD board operates as Gods. They can do anything. I found a Severability statute, but it really does not outline on how you sever this junk. So, I guess if it is not there, that is a good thing … meaning it can be done as in a petition or initiative driven by the people… but, I am no lawyer so I guess one might consider getting Mr. Gridelys input for kicks and grins.

    The focus is always on reform, and again, I think it needs to be on Severability.

    So, anyway … I did find this for interesting reading … the minutes of the interim URD committee. There is a lot in these minutes, but I found this portion kind of a mish mash of muck.

    Representative Anderst asked if current statute allows for just city council members to govern a
    revenue allocation area. Mr. Armbruster said the statute does allow that, but it has never been
    brought to the Idaho Supreme Court on constitutional issues; that is a concern, he said. Senator
    Souza said that during the last session, she asked for an attorney general opinion on that very topic
    that Representative Anderst just brought forward, and it is the opinion of this attorney general’s
    office that there is no conflict with the constitution or the statute if the city council is the entirety of
    the urban renewal board. She added that Mr. Armbruster, obviously, did not agree with that, but
    she asked if the city council was on the urban renewal board as the majority, mixed with people
    who were non-elected, how would that make it less of a conflict? Mr. Armbruster replied that his
    advice was that city council members not be a majority of that particular body. He believes it is a
    conflict and that there is a theory of alter ego where there has been no distinction between the
    two bodies and a city has very limited ability to issue debt. An urban renewal agency, by the two
    cases cited, has been adjudicated by the Idaho Supreme Court as being allowed the opportunity
    to issue debt without a vote. He admitted that lawyers do disagree. Mr. Armbruster said he may
    agree with the attorney general opinion. The problem is that bond counsel, without a decision from
    the Idaho Supreme Court, would be reluctant to issue an unqualified opinion that that governing
    body does not create constitutional infirmities. Senator Souza asked if bond counsel would be more
    comfortable if the urban renewal agency board was made up entirely of non-city council members
    who were publicly elected. Mr. Armbruster answered that he wasn’t sure that they posed that
    specific question, adding that he didn’t know the answer to that question. He thought the issue of
    publicly elected urban renewal agency members raises other issues that would need to be addressed.

    http://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2015/interim/150810_urbn_0900AM-Minutes.pdf

    Comment by Stebbijo — October 28, 2015 @ 10:01 pm

  13. Old Dog,

    Your use of exaggeration approach really does make clearer the vulnerabilities for exploitation that have been built in to Idaho’s urban renewal laws. That’s exactly why legislators need to ask the question they have failed to ask before: “What in these laws could a dishonest elected or appointed public official or other citizen exploit for illegal personal gain?” They failed to ask that question because they were and still are unwilling to even consider that some of their constituents and even some of their fellow citizen legislators were and are dishonest people who put their personal economic, social, and political gain (all of which are “benefits” as defined in Idaho’s bribery statute) ahead of their duty to use public funds honestly and diligently for public benefit.

    While past legislators may have been able to plausibly (or not…) excuse their ignorance of these vulnerabilities, any plausibility of that excuse has been erased with the creation of the Urban Renewal Interim Committee. No longer will Idaho’s legislators be able to plausibly excuse willful malconduct as mere ignorance.

    We also need to elect prosecutors who have the skill and courage to prosecute crimes of public corruption as crimes of public corruption. To that end, I’m in favor of giving the Idaho Attorney General’s Office complete concurrent prosecutorial authority for criminal violations. Right now, except in a few rare instances such as those described in I.C. § 31-2002, the AG’s office must first be invited in by a county prosecutor to investigate allegations of criminal conduct. The citizens have nowhere to turn right now when a local county prosecutor lacks either the political will or the legal skill to prosecute corruption of public officials. I think a little good ol’ American competition between county prosecutors and the AG’s office could result in better and more competent officials in both county prosecutors’ and the AG’s offices.

    Comment by Bill — October 29, 2015 @ 6:16 am

  14. Stebbijo,

    I’d agree that at least some of our state legislators have been willfully ignorant about the vulnerabilities for criminal exploitation they built in to the urban renewal laws. When we elect ignorant legislators, we will get ill-conceived legislation.

    Comment by Bill — October 29, 2015 @ 6:19 am

  15. Bill,

    I kinda of find your last comment amusing, I do agree that the general perception of Idaho politicians as “ignorant”. However, I can assure you, they are not ignorant, they are “dumb like a fox.” Even more exasperating, they don’t care if they are perceived as ignorant. The justice system in this state is literally impermeable and those who challenge it will have the entire pack of wolves to pick off. So when you know, you know …. then when you have pathetic media as well, it is a never ending battle. Three forms of power … violence, money, and intelligence … when the upper echelon has all three on their side, it is a tough road to plow on the part of honest and hard working folks. However, if and when the citizenry gets fed up enough to march into city hall with pitchforks as in Bell, CA… maybe then, something will get done. Additionally, very few politicians have “moral intelligence”, because moral intelligence does not fatten their pocketbook.

    Comment by Stebbijo — October 29, 2015 @ 8:24 pm

  16. Stebbijo,

    Notice I said “willfully ignorant.” The longer I live here, the more I see dishonest people successfully using “willful ignorance” (I call it the Idaho defense – “Gee, you mean I can’t do that?”) to get away with intentionally dishonest conduct. I wasn’t sure when you wrote “pathetic media” whether you might have meant “apathetic media,” but then, the two seem to go together either way. I believe it was in a skews article shortly after the Athol city clerk got caught that the new mayor mentioned something about following state laws to the city council, and the Council responded with something like “We didn’t know we had to follow state law.”

    If you go back and read the March 16, 2009, minutes of the Senate State Affairs Committee regarding S 1142, you see that our whiz-bang AG’s office as represented by DAG Willy von Tagen doesn’t really want to have to enforce anything that might cause anyone, certainly not anointed Idaho public officials, any amount of personal discomfort. From the minutes characterizing von Tagen’s blather (p. 7 continuing paragraph from p. 6) discussing the AG’s “changing the approach to enforcement” of the Open Meeting Law: “With the new approach, the governing body will be notified of the illegal meeting so that the defect can be repaired in most cases. An instruction book will be provided to all bodies with the intent to avoid enforcement actions in most cases.”

    So how well has the state’s philosophy of “Just tell the officials how to avoid breaking the law, ’cause we know they don’t really wanna break the law” worked since the AG office (von Tagen), the Spokesman Review (Betsy Russell), the Secretary of State (Ben Ysursa), the Association of Idaho Cities, the Idaho Association of Counties, and the League of Women Voters favored less enforcement?

    See for yourself. As noted in this article, “People don’t trust government because of these kinds of things,” [complainant Burley city councilman Casey] Andersen said later that day. “And if they continue, then people have a reason not to trust government.” So here we have the Cassia County board of county commissioners intentionally, knowingly conspiring to violate state law, and our dippity-doo Legislature provides that instead of prosecuting, the Jerome County Prosecutor must first give them a chance to “cure” a willful, knowing violation of law. And our legislators wonder why many of us consider them to be less interested in honest government and more interested in protecting their cronies from the law?

    Comment by Bill — October 30, 2015 @ 6:14 am

  17. I can agree with everything you say, literally 100% of the time, and even “willfully ignorant” politicians have their own reason for being in the dark, they like it that way and are most likely guided by their ‘handlers.’

    But, with all of the great analysis you provide, it always comes down to one thing, how do we fix it? Elections do not work as they are supposed to be the remedy to ensure a healthy and honest government. The only folks who get elected are the ones who can afford it, and then some complain that they have two jobs and can’t do it all.

    Our media is bought and most likely many of our politicians, all the way up to Governor’s office et.al are in the pockets of some wealthy like ‘Trumpster’ … the recall here in CDA proved that. I can’t prove it, but I can suspect it.

    I drive down Seltice and I look at that nice fancy billboard, campaigning for no other than Dan English, and well … I will refrain.

    I agree, many of us do not trust government and rightfully so, but there is nothing we can do about it. ***Sigh***

    Comment by Stebbijo — October 30, 2015 @ 7:51 am

  18. “We also need to elect prosecutors who have the skill and courage to prosecute crimes of public corruption as crimes of public corruption.” So true, in the mean time we are stuck with Free Pass McHugh. At the County those who are new to public office get no indoctrination into operating lawfully rather they get a staff of in-house attorneys to back every play and activity they embark on. Then should public meetings ensue about external bank accounts, embezzlement and misappropriated money not a County attorney to be found at these meetings.

    No accountability top to bottom. So much of the activity is intentionally hidden it takes considerable effort just to begin to uncover it and put the pieces together. Don’t get me started on Tote-a-Vote Dan English and his misdeeds as a former County clerk now wanting to plague the City with his flavor of politics. One can only hope the people remember and take notice, Dan English as a City Councilman makes my stomach turn.

    The duty to use public funds honestly and diligently for public benefit just does not exist with the cancer of URD. I imagine that it could potentially be operated ethically but this is Kootenai County and Coeur d’Alene why worry about doing that.

    Comment by Appalled — October 31, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

  19. I believe most of us may agree that voting is the responsibility of the people in order to fight the “status quo corruptus”, it really is our only pathetic/apathetic weapon. I might suggest that politicians may start to feel cozy within their first term as city, state, or as national elected officials, because the public begins to feel like that, too. We want to feel secure. We vote the second term in fairly, easily and then it just gets easier … for them. But, it is not working because it gives the status quo corruptus” more room to work without reservation. Break out of that box and vote for someone new. Part of the problem is we keep putting in the same old school …. because it is comfortable and easy. Capital Hill and/or City Hall need to remain uncomfortable. I have a rule now. I vote every incumbent OUT even if I am pleased with their previous performance. Getting comfortable gives the “status quo corruptus” the grip. Make them work harder at it. If you are not happy with the second choice if we are lucky enough to get one, it really does not matter… take the vote away, don’t give it to anyone. The results will still send a message.

    Comment by Stebbijo — November 1, 2015 @ 5:07 pm

  20. Stebbijo,

    It looks as if you read the Press’s editorial on Sunday. It included this: “In local elections, the problem with that approach is that the learning curve is so steep, months or even years can pass before a city council member becomes comfortable and effective.” [emphasis mine]

    I suppose from that we can infer that until a city councilman becomes comfortable, s/he won’t be effective. Or s/he won’t be effective until first becoming comfortable.

    When a public official becomes comfortable, s/he risks acquiring another “C” trait — complacency.

    Complacency (along with laziness, incompetence, and personal dishonesty) encourages embezzlers like Sandra Martinson, Sheryl Carroll, Sally Hansen, and Angela Spaccia [Sheffield]. When an employee, a subordinate, gets away with theft for so long, it is completely appropriate to look for a failure of duty: A failure of the subordinate’s supervisor to properly supervise.

    Comment by Bill — November 2, 2015 @ 6:20 am

  21. I would give them the benefit of the doubt with the approach that they are intelligent and a quick study if I vote for the right person. I would rather not assume as the Press does, I am voting for candidates who knows nothing about government and will have difficulty in learning the process, quite the opposite I would say.

    Comment by Stebbijo — November 2, 2015 @ 7:24 am

  22. Stebbijo,

    The drawback to your approach (candidate knows nothing, slow learner) is that s/he may have difficulty reconciling the differences between the processes of government (public administration as distinguished from political action) and private business. There are some areas of overlap, but all the parts are definitely not interchangeable. Someone with only private business experience is often shocked at the differences when s/he first encounters them.

    Comment by Bill — November 2, 2015 @ 7:34 am

  23. Nobody can reconcile the processes of government, it’s toast. So, therefore my approach now, is the less damage they do, the better off we are, so if they finally ‘get it’ in their final hour, then I guess nothing was really compromised. Less action or no action is better action as far as I am concerned in this state. So far, everything gets tweaked these days, nothing is thrown out as in the URD laws. Just gets worse, open meeting laws … public records … schools ect. ect.ect I don’t want any of it. No grace period in other words, it’s not my problem as the voter to ascertain what the candidate does or does not know. I can’t help it if they are surprised, that was not factored into my vote. I just know it can’t get any worse by only allowing them one term, two at best …that’s it. I am tired of career politicians … and once they are in, it is almost impossible to get them out.

    Comment by Stebbijo — November 2, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

  24. All, I can say … right now, the eve of the city council election here in CDA, the public is truly stupid or they all think we need to be guided by officials who have huge records of embezzlement under their watch, along with missing evidence. Now, it just gets worse, if one might think that is actually possible at this stage of the game. When “feculent” pundits start celebrating, the smell is just overwhelming. I do not know how Dan Gookin will ever tolerate the stench. I know, I could not take it … I would wear nose plugs to the city hall meetings.

    Comment by Stebbijo — November 3, 2015 @ 9:53 pm

  25. Stebbijo – you nailed it, I whole-heartedly agree!

    Comment by Appalled — November 4, 2015 @ 8:24 am

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