March 2, 2010

Want Justice? Pay 40 Grand!

Filed under: The City's Pulse — mary @ 9:16 pm

In a stunning, arbitrary decision this afternoon, Judge Benjamin Simpson imposed a $40,000 bond on those challenging last November’s local city council election.

His action appeared random because the number was apparently plucked from thin air, as we all watched, without reason or rationale given by the judge.  First he asked Mike Kennedy’s attorney, Scott Reed, what dollar amount Scott thought the bond should be to cover his expenses.  Mr. Reed hesitated and said it would take some thought… but the judge prodded him again, asking for a dollar figure, to which Scott Reed answered, “$25,000”. 

The judge then talked about a few other issues and concluded with the surprise announcement that the bond for challengers Jim Brannon and his attorney Starr Kelso would be set at $40,000.  Almost twice the amount suggested by Mr. Reed!

Here’s the message from Judge Simpson and the City and the County to the public:  Don’t even THINK about questioning a local election unless you have lots and lots of money!

How and why would Jim Brannon and Starr Kelso (who is working for free) come up with $40,000 to question an election for a city council position that pays $700 per month?  I don’t know if they will or if they can.  But I do know that they have uncovered irrefutable evidence that there were serious problems with this last election.

An interesting point of law is that Idaho State statues address bonding for challenges in primary elections, not city, county or general elections.  The bond listed in the state statutes is $500.  Here’s a key point:  There is NO procedural or substantive difference in challenging a primary election as compared to any other election; they all have the same steps.  So doesn’t it make sense that the bond should remain as set forth in the law?

Now back to what happened yesterday.  After my newsletter went out, many of you sent emails and probably phone calls, to County Prosecutor Barry McHugh. There were so many that Barry set up an “auto-reply” email, referring to my newsletter by name and laying out the County’s case that the election challenge was filed only under Title 50 of state law, which deals with the city-county contract and not actual election documents. Congratulations, readers, your responses got their attention, big time!

Barry was wrong.  County attorney John (“witch hunt”) Cafferty was also wrong.  The judge said today, in court, that the motion filed by the challengers was brought forward under BOTH Title 50 and 34 of state law.  And Mr. Cafferty publicly apologized for his poorly worded “witch hunt” comments and admitted that he was mistaken about the basis for the motion.

It didn’t matter, though. Judge Simpson ruled that the City of CdA has totally NO responsibility for the election.  And he “quashed” the subpoenas for County Clerk Dan English and County Elections Director Deedie Beard to appear as witnesses in the trial.  Are you kidding?  They RAN the election!  Of course they should testify to what happened.  No, said the judge. The challengers can only take depositions (statements) from them.

So the gist of the story is this: The County is off the hook, even though they ran the election.  The City is off the hook, even though State law specifies they are responsible for City elections.  And the election challengers have to pony up $40 THOUSAND DOLLARS WITHIN ONE WEEK, or they can’t go forward.

That’s justice in Kootenai County.  Why vote?  It’s all sewn up.


  1. I am sick.

    Comment by citizen — March 2, 2010 @ 9:48 pm

  2. Yeah, I am pretty sick over it too.

    But, then Bill told me not to hold my breath. God, I was really hoping for a turn around, though. But, now I know, I have been right all along. How naive of me to even hope that our system would even consider justice for something this big – let alone get it from Judge Simpson.

    Brannon should not waste any more time in District Court. None. I would not want him to fork one more nickel out.

    These guys do not want you to vote, they do not want to adhere to laws, or for that matter work. They just want to dictate from the bench. They will suffer no repercussions – just look at who is running the judicial council and the connections that lie from within. It stinks. Sounds like Simpson handed down his decision like a fly swatter without any thought at all – but to “quash.” For cry and out loud, Simpson’s wife sits on Idaho Supreme Court Committee that confers with the judicial council. That is unbelievable – if I did not know for a fact that it is true.

    “His action appeared random because the number was apparently plucked from thin air, as we all watched, without reason or rationale given by the judge”

    Maybe he is not well and is suffering from any number of problems, including but not limited to: “personal issues, including stress, burnout, and emotional distress; alcohol or drug-related problems; marital and family relationships; gambling or eating disorders; isolation or bereavement; life transitions and aging; personal and family crises; work/life balance; mental or physical challenges; and career or retirement concerns.”

    The official birth of COMMIE Coeur d’Alene,Idaho March 2, 2010.

    I don’t know what more Brannon could do to make this right – short of coming up with 40 thousand dollars now and like sums in the future. Believe me, that is just the start.

    Judge Simpson made it impossible. That is how it works.

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 2, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

  3. If the the “fix was in” by the judge to squash having fair elections in Kootenai County, then I can only believe the “fix is in” on who “wins” elections.

    Comment by citizen — March 3, 2010 @ 6:45 am

  4. We all want to believe that justice for all is strong and alive. However there are too many times that justice does not protect the people it is designed to do. We read about the injustices everyday in the news papers and see it on the 5:00 P.M. news.

    Judge Simpson’s ruling for a $40,000 bond is unbelievable and aimed to defeat a testing of our city election process. His ruling will not draw people out to vote but discourage them from even trying.

    However, these are the same reasons, we must unite and remain strong, and keep fight the “good” fight alive and well. Usually there are other options to solve the problem. Maybe someone could write a book on Coeur d’Alene politics. I wonder if the new Library will allowing a book signing. A letter campaign giving our community the details and asking for their participation in a public protest for change. Ask for Dateline to come and investigate.

    I acknowledge that I am passionate about what is good and right for our community. I still believe in helping my neighbors, keeping my word, paying my debts and obeying the laws. My world does not allow theft, lies and deception. These are the traits I hope those close to me will live their lives by. It is so important that our children and/or their children see that we stand for justice and that we will not bury our heads in the sand. It is important that we teach them that there are many events happening in our world that are not acceptable. Judge Simpson’s ruling is not acceptable. Our current election process needs to be revisited and fine tuned.

    Comment by LTR — March 3, 2010 @ 8:47 am

  5. Someone used the term “Corrupt d’Alene”. Seems to fit.

    Comment by mary — March 3, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  6. Citizen,

    Elections can only be manipulated if they are close. “Close” is relative. A ballpark figure is that if the vote difference is within 5% of the total votes cast, then the election is more susceptible to manipulation. The smaller the percentage, the greater the vulnerability to manipulation. Manipulation can be external, meaning without “insider” collusion, or internal or both. The sloppier the administration of the election processes, the greater the vulnerability to manipulation. The Coeur d’Alene City election on November 3, 2009, was both “close” and “sloppily administered.”

    Here’s an example to consider. The difference in the election between Jim Brannon and Kennedy was five votes. One person voting illegally by casting an illegal ballot in person at six different precincts changes the outcome of the election. Everything an illegal voter needed to know to identify whom to impersonate at the polling places was available well before November 3, 2009. This is why the City and County wanted to shut down Jim Brannon’s lawsuit and deny him discovery of a lot of information. One of these days I’ll post my diagram and explanation about elector impersonation at Kootenai County polling places, how it can be done without “insider” collusion and with minimal risk of detection. Of course, if you have a dishonest election worker either in the polling place or in the county elections office, the ease and number of possible illegal votes goes up dramatically.

    Comment by Bill — March 3, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  7. Changing Washington DC begins locally! Why not contribute to Mr. Brannon, bring this to a legal conclusion! Come Nov. 2010, election issues need to be resolved!

    Comment by oldteenager — March 3, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  8. Bill, what about an appeal of this decision? That would stay the week limit on the bond. It seems to me that the incident in Boise (?) wherein access was granted to these types of documents in a similar case, would constitute precedent for an appeal. Even if this apalling bond was to be posted, the judge has left the case necessitating that Jim prove that Kennedy personally rigged the vote. Impossible to do. Did Kelso not also include Kootenai County as a defendant in this suit? And isn’t the county responsible for all elections? Simpson based his decision on the county, not the city, being responsible for elections. Did he also throw out Koot. Cnty?

    Shakespeare jumps to mind. Judge Simpson and CDA city govt….”oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”. Someday that web will be swept away…..I hope.

    Comment by rochereau — March 3, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

  9. I thought I would bring up another judicial point of interest since this thread is about justice or lack thereof.

    Supreme Court Justice Burdick is rerunning for election. Article here

    Guess who sits on the same judicial commitee with Justice Burdick? Judge Simpson’s wife.

    Comment by Stebbijo — March 3, 2010 @ 12:06 pm

  10. rochereau,

    Jim Brannon’s amended complaint filed in December 2009 dropped Kootenai County as a defendant. Jim Brannon and Starr Kelso are reviewing the transcript of yesterday’s hearing to determine the best course of action.

    Comment by Bill — March 3, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  11. Perhaps a course of action would be to get all our elected officials (state and county) to petition the Attorney General to investigate the election. To my knowledge citizen requests are not honored, but public official requests are. This would be a good test of the attitude of this elected people and flush out those who don’t care. Where am I going wrong in my thinking (it seems to easy?)

    Comment by citizen — March 3, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  12. citizen,

    I presume our legislature has the authority to subpoena the Secretary of State and the Attorney General and take their testimony regarding this matter. There is a serious problem in allowing the AG to investigate: He is already on record as covering Secretary of State Ysursa’s ass in this matter. As was noted in the hearing yesterday, the Secretary of State writes the election laws that are enacted by the legislature. When the laws are as badly mangled as Ysursa has mangled them, the AG is still in his ass-covering mode. Any “investigation” by the AG would immediately and properly be suspect. The AG could take a day trip down to Salt Lake City and ask the FBI to investigate, but he will not do that. The last thing the AG, the SecState, and any of our local officials and judges want is an uncontrollable federal investigation into Idaho’s FUBAR’d election administration practices.

    It is ironic that Dan English and Ben Ysursa profess to want every possible elector to vote. Their actions to obstruct Jim Brannon’s access to evidence in this case reveals their intentional deception. I’ve spoken with several people today who said they have no intention of voting in any Kootenai County election again. Their reasoning is that their vote has been nullified by Ysursa’s and English’s eagerness to sign up foreign citizens and residents to vote in Corrupt d’Alene elections. It is very convenient for them, because most people living in another country are beyond the reach of the US courts until and if they return to the US.

    Comment by Bill — March 3, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  13. I still want to see our elected officials step up and try to get the Attorney General to investigate. I think that it will look like a “cop out” if the citizens push for this and they turn us down. As seen by the Tea Party movement, politicians pay attention when confronted by large numbers. The only answer is large group action. When we rely on courts we seem to lose

    Comment by citizen — March 3, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  14. Not large numbers, citizen. Majorities. Kennedy won with 50.04% of the vote. Goodlander won with 50.23% of the vote. There already exists a large group who do not like the status quo. But such a group has no resonance with City Hall’s arrogance. Things won’t change until the incumbents get 40% and 30% of the vote. I don’t see that happening in Rotten to the Coeur d’Alene.

    Comment by Dan — March 3, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

  15. I speak of the county as a whole. If the greater county bands together to clean up the elections run by English we have a chance.

    Comment by citizen — March 3, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  16. citizen,

    English has neither the will nor the ability to deliver “clean” elections in Kootenai County. His dismal failures and worse have now been buried from public exposure with the cooperation of Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh and Judge Benjamin Simpson.

    Comment by Bill — March 4, 2010 @ 6:17 am

  17. It is unfortunate that Koot county was dropped from the lawsuit. I don’t think Simpson could have made this decision had KC been included. As I understand it, he based his decision on the county, not the city, being responsible for elections…..and though it sticks in my craw to say so, on that point, he is correct. I would think that the most immediate concern is to stay the bond payment date. Simpson plans to add the cost of producing the documents he allowed, to the bond amount. What am I missing here? It’s called discovery your (dis)honor.

    Comment by rochereau — March 4, 2010 @ 9:11 am

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