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April 27, 2011

Urban Renewal Town Hall Meeting

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 9:03 am

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The Lake City Senior Center meeting room was nearly full for last night’s town hall meeting to inform the public about Idaho’s urban renewal law application by the City’s urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corporation.

The meeting was reported in this morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press article headlined Citizens talk urban renewal.

Here are some photos from last night’s meeting.  (Mouse click on each photo to enlarge it.)

Mistress of Ceremonies Jeanette Mackin addressing the audience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker Sharon Culbreth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker Mary Souza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker Frank Orzell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker State Representative Kathy Sims

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the audience

14 Comments

  1. Thanks for taking those great photos, Bill! The event last night was very well attended, as you know. They had to bring in more chairs and the Press’ estimate of 230 people sounds about right. Tom Hasslinger, from the Press, made a couple of mistakes in his article today, but overall it was a good description of last night’s forum. The errors were these:

    1. Tom wrote:

    “That board isn’t elected, rather appointed by the mayor and approved by City Council, and its rules are controlled by the state Legislature. That’s too much oversight for such major financial decisions, Souza said, especially since LCDC now covers 17 percent of the total taxable value of Coeur d’Alene.”

    I didn’t say it’s too much oversight…it’s not enough oversight!…there’s basically NO oversight!

    2. Tom wrote:

    “.. Kennedy is the president of Intermax Network. Intermax partner Steve Meyer is business partners with former LCDC board member Charlie Nipp in a different business, and Nipp owns property on Front Avenue near the park.”

    Mike Kennedy’s direct boss, Steve Meyer, owns the property across from the park with Charlie Nipp. Any decision Mike makes on this issue, as a city councilman, will have a direct financial impact on his boss’ property. That’s why Mike should recuse himself from a council vote on the park renovation plan so he can avoid the appearance of conflict. Notice that I did not say it’s illegal or a big conspiracy, nor did I call Mr. Kennedy any names. But don’t lose your common sense here…Mike’s boss, at his full-time job, owns the land, and that’s a direct influence on Mike.

    Mayor Bloem’s family has owned the building on 4th & Sherman for a long time…so what? It doesn’t matter if she bought it last year, she is still in line to benefit financially from any decision about the park because her building is directly on the 4th street “Pedestrian Walkway” which closes that portion of the street and makes it a walking area to the grand entrance to the park. Brad Jordan from LCDC, who’s also chairman of P&Z, owns the building on the other corner of the 4th & Sherman Pedestrian Walkway. He should recuse himself from any votes on this plan too, because he would have a financial benefit as well.

    No one is saying these folks are terrible people or criminals…get over that crazy hype! It’s just good common sense and proper procedure to remove yourself, as a city official, from any vote that could give the appearance of conflict.

    That’s why the BEST way to avoid all this mess is to put the McEuen vote on the November 8th city election ballot and let the people decide. No conflict of interest there!

    Comment by mary — April 27, 2011 @ 10:05 am

  2. Mary, first off, congrats on the turnout. It is good to see the issues being discussed.

    Second, wouldn’t you tend to agree that EVERY decision a Mayor and Council makes affects them in some way, even financially? For example, when they opt to not increase taxes by the 3% max allowed by law, as they’ve done in recent years, that lowers their individual tax burdens. Under your scenario, they would ALL have to recuse themselves on that decision because they all live in and own property in the city. In that event, who would be left to approve the budget? That is by far the biggest single financial decision they make, and they make it every August, but where is the protest urging recusal then?

    I do agree that ownership issues should be divulged to the public, in the best interests of the discussion, but to expect recusals on every issue affecting them is a stretch.

    We elect our officials to make the best decisions for us, knowing there are impacts to all of us (and them) from every decision they make. There would be no effective governance if recusals came on every vote affecting elected officials. That’s the bottom line.

    Comment by JohnA — April 27, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  3. When you look for public corruption, you don’t look at the project, you look at the adjacent properties. It doesn’t matter that Bloem’s building has been in her family for 98 years. It matters that Bloem directs public money to a location adjacent to her already-owned property.

    The biggest problem in small town America, John, is that these elected officials don’t understand what public corruption is.

    Comment by Dan — April 27, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  4. Mary has a point – a vote would remove any impropriety. But, then some folks might not be afraid of the big bad misdemeanor – unknowingly, that is.

    67-6506.Conflict of interest prohibited … according to the Idaho Ethics in Government Manual

    A governing board creating a planning, zoning, or planning and zoning commission, or joint commission shall provide that the area and interests within its jurisdiction are broadly represented on the commission. A member or employee of a governing board, commission, or joint commission shall not participate in any proceeding or action when the member or employee or his employer, business partner, business associate, or any person related to him by affinity or consanguinity within the second degree has an economic interest in the procedure or action. Any actual or potential interest in any proceeding shall be disclosed at or before any meeting at which the action is being heard or considered. For purposes of this section the term “participation” means engaging in activities which constitute deliberations pursuant to the open meeting act. No member of a governing board or a planning and zoning commission with a conflict of interest shall participate in any aspect of the decision-making process concerning a matter involving the conflict of interest. A member with a conflict of interest shall not be prohibited from testifying at, or presenting evidence to, a public hearing or similar public process after acknowledging nonparticipation in the matter due to a conflict of interest. A knowing violation of this section shall be a misdemeanor.

    Comment by Stebbijo — April 27, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  5. OK, Stebbijo, under that statute can you tell me of ANY city resident who could serve effectively on the Council? In its narrowest sense the statute could be interpreted to cover every resident because every resident is affected by even the most mundane decisions made by a City Council.

    How could effective governance happen if there is no one eligible to make a decision?

    Comment by JohnA — April 27, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  6. John A – I appreciate your counter point. I think many residents could serve effectively under that law, including the ones we have on the LCDC and on the City Council. All you have to do is the right thing.

    However, I don’t know how that statute would be interpreted in an Idaho court of law.

    I read it as black and white. If I were any of these people who have associated properties or a boss that would benefit, I would not hesitate to recuse myself. But, that is me – I don’t get away with anything and I don’t have attorneys to cover me.

    If there is no one eligible to make a decision, then the issue should go before the people as a vote. That is how I see it.

    Comment by Stebbijo — April 27, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  7. I understand you point, Stebbijo, and the black and while reading of the statute. However, if they held a public vote on every issue on which there was a potential conflict, local government would grind to a halt. As much as I appreciate public participation, I’d hate to see that happen.

    Meanwhile, Dan, as a large taxpayer yourself if elected to the Council what issues do you think you could rightfully vote on that would not be in conflict with the statute?

    Comment by JohnA — April 27, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  8. John, I don’t think it would happen on “every issue.” This particular issue appears to be somewhat unique.

    I look forward to Dan’s answer.

    Comment by Stebbijo — April 27, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  9. The current state statute Stebbijo cited is inadequate. What is needed is a statute outlawing what amounts to illegal insider trading.

    Illegal insider trading refers generally to buying or selling a security, in breach of a fiduciary duty or other relationship of trust and confidence, while in possession of material, nonpublic information about the security. Insider trading violations may also include “tipping” such information, securities trading by the person “tipped,” and securities trading by those who misappropriate such information. In this instance, the “security” would be knowledge of proposed projects and decisions over the siting of such projects.

    And our legislators have to do something they have historically been unwilling to do: Recognize public corruption and make it a felony with mandatory state prison time.

    Prosecutors don’t necessarily aggressively pursue misdemeanor prosecutions when there are felonies aplenty.

    Comment by Bill — April 27, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

  10. John, I don’t think you understand public corruption. You can’t tell me that public corruption revolves around debt. Taxes are an obligation. They are a debt. As an elected official, I cannot vote away my ability to pay taxes. That’s nonsense.

    Public corruption is about making GAINS personally, financially, socially. Congress voting on a law to tax us all but freeing congressman from that obligation is corruption. Local elected officials lack that luxury.

    I own no property in the city other than my home. I don’t work for or with anyone else in the city; I have no business connections, partnerships, investments, or obligations in the State of Idaho. I am not owned by anyone. That’s one reason my being elected to the council terrifies some people.

    Comment by Dan — April 27, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

  11. Bill, wouldn’t you agree that since upgrades to McEuen Field have been in the city’s financial plans since 1997 the issues about impropriety shouldn’t apply to the current Council? That would include Ron Edinger and Al Hassell, who were on the Council at the time but to my knowledge own no property in the URD.

    Comment by JohnA — April 27, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  12. Certainly, Dan, improvements in the Lake District (specifically the Ed Corridor near your home) will greatly enhance the value of tha property. How could you vote on that project, for example?

    Comment by JohnA — April 27, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  13. JohnA,

    No.

    Comment by Bill — April 27, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  14. John, there is no proof, either in the plan or even from statements from City Hall, that when the Lake District ends it will improve anything. The results can’t be measured for at minimum a decade. Even then, there is no control group, so the net results of Urban Renewal are, at best, a fabrication of the people who make money selling the idea. Otherwise, you’d have to show me how my property value would not improve over the same time period. Again, it’s all a fabrication.

    Given the vagueness of the plan proposed in 1997, were I on the council I would have voted NO.

    Comment by Dan — April 27, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

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