OpenCDA

February 29, 2008

Good Questions

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 9:10 am

Readers “steve” and “Stebbijo” both posted similar and very good questions on Mary’s February 28, 2008, post titled A Question of Sheep.  I offered this comment in response, but their questions (regarding corruption in Coeur d’Alene) were so reasonable, I thought it might be appropriate to make my answer a standalone post.

I’ll try to answer your basic question about why “someone” isn’t investigating (allegations of “corruption” in Coeur d’Alene).

First, neither you nor I know that “someone” is or isn’t investigating, nor should we expect to know. If any agency, particularly federal, has launched an inquiry or an investigation, I would hope they would keep it quiet so the bad guys don’t get wind of it. Often and correctly, the public first hears of an official investigation when search warrants are served or indictments are issued. By the time it reaches that stage, the investigation is less likely to be compromised by prematurely released information.

There’s an even better reason why an ethical and professional agency should not tell the world it’s launched an investigation: It should not want to defame anyone. A person’s reputation can be tarnished irreparably by investigative information and innuendo. Remember Richard Jewell?

A criminal investigation is a very serious matter that should never, never be used as a bludgeon or a tool of political retaliation. No reputable agency should “number up” or launch a formal criminal investigation without a substantial amount of verifiable evidence that a criminal violation within its jurisdiction has occurred.

Second, major investigations take a long time and require man-hours and money. How long? Remember the November 2007 FBI and Secret Service raids in three cities that scooped up allegedly illegally minted dollars? Based on the inappropriate release of an FBI agent’s alleged affidavit, one news account reported that the FBI had agents undercover for two years.

There is no crime of “corruption.” That is a term most of us use to describe the aggregate of illegal behaviors in which some public officials engage. Corrupt public officials often get caught up by committing singular crimes such as wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and soliciting or accepting a bribe or gratuity. To get some idea of the breadth of these investigations, see the Internal Revenue Service’s Examples of Public Corruption Crimes Investigations FY 2008.

6 Comments

  1. I certainly understand your points.

    What is confusing at least from my perspective is – I understand that complaints in regards to the open meeting law have been filed with the prosecuter, and I want to know why nothing is being done. Must we just accept that nothing is going to be done or can we believe that their is an investigation that we do not know about being conducted? Let’s only hope.

    Comment by Stebbijo — February 29, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  2. Stebbijo,

    Have you personally sent an Idaho Open Meeting Law complaint to the prosecutor and received no reply? If so, please email a copy of your complaint to me. If you know someone who has sent an Open Meeting Law complaint that has gone unanswered, I’d also like to hear about that.

    I have submitted one complaint myself and know two other people who also submitted written complaints. We all received responses from the prosecutor.

    Comment by Bill — February 29, 2008 @ 11:17 am

  3. No.

    I have in the past sent complaints to other prosecuters and also the AG’s office. I always get a reply but nothing is done. I am told why they cannot do anything.

    Since it has been said that you and some others have filed complaints and have the specifics to file those complaints I am just wondering if there has been any weight in those complaints. God knows, there are none with mine.

    At my end, I appreciate what many of you are doing, investing your time and working to get the facts. It’s all some of us can hope for – that a group of people are concerned enough to make the difference and promote the change for honest open government, because some of have been so beat to death by some of the injustices, that we just don’t care to particpate because it never got us anywhere before.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Stebbijo — February 29, 2008 @ 11:54 am

  4. Stebbijo,

    Many of Idaho’s laws, including the Open Meeting Law, were written by well-intended legislators who, at the time, believed the majority of citizens would willingly comply. They believed that most people in Idaho were honest and that any violations of the law would be inadvertent and unintentional.

    Times have changed, but the laws haven’t been amended to bring them up to date with reality. With increasing and distressing frequency, predators are exploiting the legislature’s inability or unwillingness to acknowledge that the number of willful law violators in Idaho is increasing. The exploitation of the state’s urban renewal laws by a few predatory officials is a pretty good example of that.

    Don’t give up, because the people who are fighting against the deceit, dishonesty, and exploitation in local government here need input and encouragement from those like you who have been hammered before. What will get legislators’ attention is concise, factual questions and concerns substantiated with equally concise and factual information. If you’re not comfortable sending it to them, send it to Dan or Mary or me. Don’t expect miracles, but we are already seeing results. Sometimes the results aren’t readily apparent, but they are there. And don’t lose faith in all local government employees. Some of them are honest and are doing their part to clean up their community.

    Comment by Bill — February 29, 2008 @ 12:19 pm

  5. The problem as I see it, this injustice, corruption, etc. will continue. It’s the taxpayers/citizens that are going to carry this burden for the time and beyond until the legal system reacts. The “offenses” have already been committed and it’s time to stop these people and make them pay before it’s too late. The offenders’ are living “comfortable” on the ill-gotten proceeds from the citizens/taxpayers, it’s time they either pay back the citizens or go to jail. This is a xerox copy of Enron, just on a smaller scale. Kootenai County, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls used to be a comfortable place to live, however, now….it’s a place for the wealthy, corruption and all, unfortunately, the people we all depended upon to keep this area “clean,” are the same people who have made this area a ” haven for crime and corruption.” And now, most of them don’t even live within the boundaries they have destroyed.

    Comment by steve — February 29, 2008 @ 5:30 pm

  6. steve,

    Thank you for your insightful comments. The injustice and corruption will continue until the taxpayers/citizens stop blindly trusting certain public officials and start challenging them and questioning their conduct and decisions. I am gravely disappointed that our Mayor and City Council in Coeur d’Alene have so little faith in the citizens who live here. Question the Mayor, the City Council, and the LCDC and some of those officials or their subordinates will lash out at you, in some cases trying to get to you through your employer.

    You jolted me with your statement, “This is a xerox copy of Enron, just on a smaller scale.” Dan and Mary will confirm that is a comparison I’ve made as well. People getting caught up in the tornadic pursuit of money. People consciously choosing to ignore many historically proven accounting and financial principles that act as safety valves against catastrophies. People who believe the laws of the state are merely suggestions to be evaded because they supposedly reduce profitability. People believing that citizens encouraging measured diligence, prudence, and caution “just don’t understand”, a phrase uttered by Enron’s Kenneth Lay and also by one LCDC Commissioner during a meeting on CDA TV19. People thinking that somehow they’re entitled to loot the treasury simply because they lived through Coeur d’Alene’s less prosperous times.

    On the other hand, not all the public officials in Coeur d’Alene are crooks. I suspect that some public officials who have become ensnared in the schemes wish they had not, but they don’t know how to extricate themselves. For example, some of the people on the LCDC no doubt understand that the large amounts of money LCDC is accumulating may entice illegal or corrupt behavior. This is not chicken feed, not chump change. This is the kind of money that begets certain frauds, personal profiteering contrary to law, and money laundering. Maybe these basically honest, well-intended officials feel a personal loyalty to their cohort(s) who have knowingly crossed the line from aggressive financial transactions into criminal behavior. The bad news for the basically honest people is that it is only going to get worse for them unless they make a clean break right now. It will not get better or easier for them as time passes.

    If those basically honest but trapped officials would simply start talking truthfully and trustingly to their friends and neighbors, encouraging their friends and neighbors to begin to ask questions and not accept BS answers, acknowledging their own mistakes and asking their friends and neighbors for help, a lot of this mess would clean itself up without much if any law enforcement intervention. I hope that is what happens. A community that can solve these kinds of problems without one search warrant or federal grand jury indictment is far stronger and healthier than a community that makes Eyenitwit News at 11 with film of public officials being cuffed and booked. Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County have good people who can fix the problems.

    Comment by Bill — February 29, 2008 @ 8:12 pm

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