OpenCDA

May 20, 2011

No Conflicts…nothing to see here…keep moving…

Filed under: General — mary @ 10:51 am

It’s nice when the City officials can just have their own inside attorney proclaim there is “no conflict of interest” in owning key properties near the proposed McEuen park renovation plan, which will cost the public an estimated $39 Million or more.  You can read today’s front page article in the Press and see what you think.

There’s no conflict because the mayor’s building was inherited?  She will still see a direct financial boost from the plan, so she shouldn’t vote on it.  Councilman Mike Kennedy works for the guy who owns a big section of land right across the street from the park.  (The Press just corrected their wording on this to show that Mike’s direct boss owns the property) It’s Mike’s main job and it’s how he feeds his family.  Mike may not get a direct financial benefit, but the law says that if you’re an elected official you can’t vote on items that would give you,  your close family or business associates a financial gain.  Kennedy should not vote on it.  City attorney Gridley kind of glossed those over, didn’t he?   Your thoughts?

44 Comments

  1. That article this morning was embarrassing for the city. For them to be defensive on the topic of conflicts of interest and ethical violations should be a red flag to anyone paying attention. Honest government doesn’t operate that way.

    It would be far better if — beyond a shadow of a doubt — the city would simply say, “We’re going to error on the side of what’s right, and ask those elected officials with even the remotest connection to property by McEuen to recuse themselves from the decision-making process.” Don’t expect to see an announcement like that until we replace the entire council, and a few key administrators in City Hall.

    Comment by Dan — May 20, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  2. My position on Mc Euen is clear…NO. And I agree with Dans comments above. Whether or not a conflict of interest meets a strict legal definition, pure integrity requires those council members to step back from the process. The hook on this decision is that it could be difficult to prove that those with contiguous property will financially profit. Common sense says of course, but common sense doesn’t constitute absolute proof. Even more egregious is the architect/engineer who designed this atrocity. He owns the condo buildings and retains ownership of the retail portion. According to the Press, the plans were put out to bid. I would really like to see the bids that came in and speak with those who submitted them. Anybody want to take a wager that they have mysteriously disappeared.

    Comment by rochereau — May 20, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  3. One last line…..”integrity” is in short supply with this group. One can’t utilize what doesn’t exist.

    Comment by rochereau — May 20, 2011 @ 11:49 am

  4. Perhaps a recall could be circulated, signatures gathered, and an injunction sought to prevent the current city council from acting (approving) on the ‘done deal’ until after the recall election is held. Since the free money is coming from LCDC it is not going anywhere and the money could be held by it until after the recall election. The first order of business, after the recall election, would be to get a long rail, a barrel of tar, several down filled pillows, and hold a ‘going away’ party for the city attorney.

    Comment by Happy Trails — May 20, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  5. A recall…..on what grounds? Like it or not, you might know, but you cannot prove absolutely that they will profit.

    Comment by rochereau — May 20, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  6. rochereau,

    As I recall, a recall election is not like impeachment or a courtroom trial in that a recall petition can be initiated for any reason at all. The grounds simply don’t matter except to the petition signers and voters. It’s not as if someone has to prove high crimes and misdemeanors. If there are sufficient qualified signatures on the recall petition(s), then there is a recall election to vote on whether or not the official(s) named will be recalled. The only proof required would be whatever it takes to convince people to vote to recall the official(s). The presumption is that reasonable voters would not recall a public official without sufficient reason, but the sufficiency of the reason is up to each voter. See Idaho Code, Title 34, Chapter 17 for details and requirements.

    Comment by Bill — May 20, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  7. Does anyone think that a recall election would wake up City Hall?

    Comment by Dan — May 20, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  8. Dan,

    I think we are unlikely to see a recall once people realize the Mullan Avenue Mafia would be allowed to see the petitions (with the signatures). There are quite a few people who would not sign out of fear of retaliation.

    Comment by Bill — May 20, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  9. I believe that the petitions would be turned into the County Clerk, not the City Clerk. Of course, the petitions are public documents, which means that the City isn’t forbidden from looking at them.

    Comment by Dan — May 20, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  10. This is how I see it – Mike Kennedy has nothing to lose by keeping his good buddies in the door – because – IF we have a credible decision from the Idaho Supreme Court – sometime in the future, hopefully before the next election – regarding the Brannon/City election case, he is out the door, anyway. Mike Kennedy’s job is to push this through,while he is still there to do it at any cost.After all, he is protected by lawyers who guide him to make the right decisions. Right?

    Mind you, I said “credible” decision – remember – this is Idaho and “corruptible” can always take precedence.

    Comment by Stebbijo — May 20, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

  11. I believe a recall would be a waste of time at this time. Change is coming as each council member grows older. It was mentioned earlier that Al and Ron may not run again and I heard from a good source that Deanna is running out of steam.

    People are tired of the same old stuff. Now is the time to bring in new leaders and change will be the result.

    Comment by LTR — May 20, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  12. Troubling it is, troubling indeed, for it to be even suggested that citizens of our fine community would not sign a petition out of the fear of retaliation.

    FDR was right…”The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

    William Wallace had it right too, at Falkirk. To paraphrase William…

    Sign the petition and you may be retaliated against. Refuse to sign and you will live at least awhile until they choose to retaliate against you for some other action, another day. If any elected official would retaliate against any citizen, for exercising his fundamental right as a citizen, you can be assured that official will retaliate against the same citizen, at the drop of a hat, for any reason…even one that couldn’t be guessed at. And shaking for fear while dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and demand the prima donnas on the city council let the citizens vote.”

    I will just say that Coeur d’Alene’s city council seeks to break the spirits of its citizens into a state of hopeless submission. As for me, that is not an option. Hopefully it is not an option for you. So, stand up, smile broadly, and sign your name on the petition clearly and boldly for anyone, and all, to see.

    For anyone that would seek to hide hide his name and cower in fear, a fear of retaliation, I say to you that you are a disgrace to your children, your family, and all of your ancestors before you who stood up to corruption and tyranny.

    Comment by Happy Trails — May 20, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  13. Bravo, Happy Trails! Well said. Where do I sign? Why not, my name is already on their list!

    Comment by mary — May 20, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  14. Happy Trails,

    Darn, a philosopher right here in Coeur d’Alene.

    Of course, you’re right. What usually happens is that as more and more people stand up, even silently but certainly visibly, the would-be intimidators who depended on the timidity of the intimidated are rendered powerless. They have no power except that given them by those willing to be beaten.

    Comment by Bill — May 20, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

  15. I’ll sign too. When will those “elected” to office start to understand that they are to serve the people and that the people of Coeur d’Alene are not here to serve them.

    Comment by Jim Brannon — May 20, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

  16. So, let’s see…Mayor Bloem should not vote on McEuen because she owns a building & business next to the project. Mike Kennedy should not vote because his boss owns a big half-block right next to the park, which will also gain in value.

    Who else on the Council should recuse themselves? John Bruning has been a member of the McEuen Advisory group of 21 (remember that 11 of them either get a paycheck from the city or sit on one of the city’s commissions or boards…nice to have a majority guaranteed). That group planned the park project. Should John step back?

    Deanna Goodlander and Al Hassel sit on LCDC. Should they step aside too?

    Comment by mary — May 21, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  17. They all should step aside and put it to a public vote. “Should” and “will” are a pipe dream with this group. What they should do is step aside and put it to a public vote. If they do that, I will take out an ad in the Press saying I was wrong.

    Deanna Goodlander ran out of steam some 30 years ago.

    Comment by rochereau — May 21, 2011 @ 8:00 am

  18. The Mullan Avenue Gang is behaving as if it is resigned to their being ousted, and they really don’t seem to care what messes they leave for their successors to clean up. They’re acting like renters who believe they will receive an eviction notice, so they begin destroy the rental unit and steal the fixtures and copper pipe before leaving.

    Comment by Bill — May 21, 2011 @ 8:33 am

  19. Then here’s the question: Why do you think they resist putting this to a public vote? Is it only because they fear it won’t pass, or that they don’t want to do the work of showing the public why it’s worth the cost?

    Comment by mary — May 21, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  20. Mary,

    Fear and denial. Any public vote that goes against their stated plan amounts to a vote of no confidence in the Mayor and Council. Their egos won’t allow them to risk official rebuke by the voters on a matter the Gang has said it has the authority to decide. Political self-immolation is apparently more acceptable than political death by a thousand ballots at the polls.

    Comment by Bill — May 21, 2011 @ 9:02 am

  21. I think the only good case for recusing is for the Mayor. That little stub — the pedestrian walkway part of the plan — goes right up to her building. It’s not currently in the park, but it was tossed in for some reason. I believe that’s enough evidence that the project was steered in a specific direction, which would require the Mayor to dismiss herself from the process. That would no way remove her influence, which is heavy.

    When the City purchased the park on Fernan Hill, one of the sellers was the Mayor’s brother. I felt that she should have recused herself from that item as well. I wrote to Gridley and he said that it was within the law. In my world, the mere fact that someone pointed out the connection between the Mayor, her brother, and the property purchase was enough to make it ethically questionable.

    The connection between Kennedy and Meyer is weak, Mary. Mike will not personally benefit from his decision and unless you can connect a “bonus check” to his vote, there’s no case there. What’s more of an issue for Kennedy is his adamant promise to the ball players that he would “fight” to keep the ball fields at McEuen. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays true to his word and votes NO on the project because of the ball fields.

    Goodlander and Hassel are useless on the LCDC. They do nothing there, and they have never reported about their LCDC duties in any public meeting. I’ve watched many LCDC meetings in person or on TV and all I’ve ever heard from Goodlander or Hassel are bland platitudes and random “me too” comments. That begs the question of what the heck are they doing for the public on that board.

    As members of the LCDC, Goodlander and Hassel get two votes on this project. I don’t know whether that’s categorically a conflict of interest, but it’s not in the best interest of the public to give individuals two votes. If either of them had any respect for the public process, they would recuse themselves. Don’t hold your breath on that.

    Comment by Dan — May 21, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  22. Dan I totally disagree with your assessment of Kennedy’s business relationship with his boss Steve Meyer. The law says Kennedy may not vote on issues that will financially benefit close business associates. How much closer can you get than an employer-employee relationship! Kennedy’s job is dependent on Meyer’s satisfaction!

    How do you see that Kennedy does not fall under that portion of the law?

    Comment by mary — May 21, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  23. Here’s what Gary Ingram wrote about the McEuen issue on the Open Session post:

    JohnA, you’re probably right that the city council will start with the rebuild of front street including the parking garage. I might add, that decision will result in the immediate closure of access to the boat launch. Oh, they will argue that the launch is still there and won’t be removed until “the equal or better launch” is ready, but no access means no launch. This whole disingenuous exercise is going to get even more interesting, indeed.

    Comment by Gary Ingram — May 22, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

    Comment by mary — May 22, 2011 @ 10:36 pm

  24. Gary, do you think there will be legal action if they close down the boat launch without a public vote?

    Comment by mary — May 22, 2011 @ 10:38 pm

  25. Gary, that is an interesting view. Will the city then say “see, no one is using the boat launch” so they can justify taking it out?

    LTR, I too had heard from a reliable source that Deanna might not run again as well.

    Comment by concerned citizen — May 23, 2011 @ 7:49 am

  26. Mary,

    Our mayor and council members are dishonest, arrogant, and foolish, but I still don’t think they will close down the 3rd Street boat launch at the beginning of the summer season. For one thing, the water level is high. The lake level is expected to fluctuate because of runoff until later in June. Demolishing the boat launch, if that’s what they plan, would make more sense when the water level is lower so more of the concrete is exposed. Closing the launch at the beginning of the summer boating season would unnecessarily inconvenience a lot of people who do use it. That unnecessary aggravation would send a bad (accurate, but bad) message about our loopy (non)leadership in CdA at a time when the City ought to be trying to attract people rather than aggravate them.

    Comment by Bill — May 23, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  27. The boat launch bothers me because the city is touting a huge drop in user numbers. I question their statistics. (Full disclosure: We’re not boaters and don’t use that launch, though we go out on the lake with friends once or twice each summer) From what I’m hearing, the city is calculating the usage numbers based on the $2.00 fee they charge to use the launch, but many boaters have told me they haven’t been asked to pay that fee.

    So here’s my cynical question: Could the city be under-counting the boats on purpose so as to make it look like the launch isn’t necessary?

    Comment by mary — May 23, 2011 @ 8:25 am

  28. Demolishing the boat launch now would create a public relations nightmare for the city. I agree with Bill that it will probably be demolished in winter when there is no one around to sound the alarm. Are the use records accurate?

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — May 23, 2011 @ 8:37 am

  29. Mary,

    If the City would allow the McEuen Field tennis courts to deteriorate to discourage their usage, if the City would understate the usage of the ball fields, why would you question if the City would understate the boat launch usage? Of course it would. I’m more concerned they are understating the boat launch usage for another reason: To enable them to justify a small “equal or better” replacement. To me, “equal or better” means the same size, the same slope, the same approach lengths, the same parking lot accessibility and size, the same water depth, the same conditions year ’round as the existing launch. I fear they are trying to say a smaller everything will be equal or better based on their understated usage figures.

    Comment by Bill — May 23, 2011 @ 8:44 am

  30. Very good point, Bill.

    Comment by mary — May 23, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  31. Retaliation? How would the city or individuals retaliate against me for signing a recall, parking tickets every time they see my car down town?
    This town is such small potato’s, not small I’ll grant on the money being manipulated but small as far as any syndicate or some all powerful group of thugs extorting citizens with fear. I mean come on look at them, they are borderline morons. Do you guys honestly believe that they are meeting at the Masonic temple or something planning to hold down the proletariats?
    And Happy T nice pontification on who or why YOU believe, lets see how did you put it, a person is a disgrace “For anyone to seek to hide his name and cower in fear, fear of retaliation, I say that you are a disgrace to your children, your family, and all of your ancestors before who stood up to corruption and tyranny”
    That’s exceptionally funny and ironic coming from someone using a fake name on a blog.
    And Mary I’ll give you credit for standing up to your beliefs and perspective but no credit for congratulating a buffoon’s ramblings.
    What I really don’t get is why not just do this thing in bites small bites that allow for gauging the like or dislike of the progress as it goes. I’m all for losing the boat ramp and parking on the waterfront but not for moving the baseball field. Seems foolish to me to have pavement on the waterfront. Honesty, everything that the McEuen Squad wants to have can fit in the area that currently is a parking lot and boat ramp, fountains, play area, grass, band shell, heck a launch pad for the space shuttle for all I care. Point is they can put all that crap on that foot print alone without even touching the fields from the baseball field to the library. Want parking? Raze the city hall building and build one like the tower of Babel.
    As to the council, are they sinister? Please are you kidding, one has to be smart to be nefarious to the degree that you guys give them credit for.
    Are they stupid? More or less but so am I.
    Do I agree with some of the stuff that they have done? Heck no but I also don’t believe they are trying to stick it to anyone just to stick it to them. We all get blinded and defensive about our beliefs and held perspectives, just look at this blog as an example and watch the retaliation my words here are going to get. Then, being a foolish human I’ll defend them and on and on we go. The point being, we all play the very same game that we hate in others.
    Thanks

    Comment by Eric — May 23, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  32. Gee Eric, I thought that everyone who views this site knows who I am. Let me spell it for you……. really……slow, S-T-A-R-R…K-E-L-S-O. Was that too fast for you? Try again, S–T–A–R–R…K–E–L–S–O. Hope you got it the second time.

    Comment by Happy Trails — May 23, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  33. Hey Starr, thank you for all you have done to bring important issues to light. You have given so much of your time, energy and professional talent to bring needed accountability to our local system of governance.

    Comment by mary — May 23, 2011 @ 11:45 am

  34. Eric, do you think the process the city is using to make the McEuen decision is responsible?

    Comment by mary — May 23, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  35. Eric,

    One form of retaliation is to have the police make pretext traffic stops.

    Another is to contact an employer and suggest that the employee needs to tone down his rhetoric if the employer wants to continue to receive business or city-administered grants.

    Another is to file frivolous court actions against the person.

    Another is to refuse to consider the “wrong” people for appointments to City commissions and committees.

    Another is to enforce city codes aggressively against the “wrong” people and not enforce them at all against the “right” people.

    You may not have seen these here, but I have. Then again, I’m looking, and I know what to look for. That’s the big advantage of not having been born, raised, and employed in Coeur d’Alene.

    Comment by Bill — May 23, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  36. Oh Golly Gee!
    So sorry Mr Kelso to not be in the know. Please forgive me as I don’t hang on every blog pseudonym. Good info though as I’ve always wondered why I usually skip reading your entries, now I know. Anyway my fault for reading the one I commented on.
    Again extraordinarily funny and ironic, now an attorney lecturing on integrity. All sanctimony aside, to each their own, if you truly believe in what you’re doing then more power to you.
    Mary, no I don’t think that the current council is being responsible. Why not use the funds they seem to have access to to pay back or pay off what we already have given for the Library, or the Kroc Center THEN, let’s look at this McEuen Squad project.
    I believe they are going to pull another fast one on us just like the library, the one that was NOT going to require any taxes or whatever they promised when presenting the original proposal. What happened? Under that guise they proceeded to move forward to such a grand degree and break just enough ground that the point of no return was passed. We, the working stiff let it go because we were promised. But alas, once the money ran out they came a call’in. “We’ve come this far, let’s just get it done” they said. What they didn’t say was, “We got it done without your input under a guise, and now that we have you over a barrel, we’ll make you pay for it while getting what we wanted in the first place.”
    That’s how I see it, and maybe it makes me a nut bag like the rest of you guys but I didn’t even get dinner or a kiss on that one.
    Does McEuen need some work? Indeed and I do believe that it was “let go” just enough to be OK but still kind of cruddy. Yes that’s nut baggish thinking but with all the LCDC cash just sitting around you think they would at least resurface the damn parking lot and repaint the lines. Nope let it run down juuuuust enough.
    That deceit sits poorly in my mind, but some reading this would consider that I’ve lost the very mind I’m referring to and, that’s probably be true.

    Comment by Eric — May 23, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

  37. Bill, I could see some of that maybe.
    What is a pretext traffic stop? Careful how you reply on that one.
    These “wrong” people, lets say that the roles were reversed in that the “wrong” people held the cards and the right people were outside looking in.
    Do you honestly believe that the “wrong” people would act different than the right people did?

    I don’t, as humans love power and very few put away the who you know and favors. No one wants to share anymore.
    Pigs, sheep, and wolves.

    Comment by Eric — May 23, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

  38. Does the City avoid putting large projects on the ballot for fear of rejection: YES

    Did the City purposely allow the 3rd and 4th St. parking lot and McEuen Field to deteriorate? YES

    Does the City retaliate against the people that can roadblock their dreams? YES

    Does the City leaders exchange enough information for a council decision prior to a meeting? YES

    Does the City favor the downtown core with agreements and financial assistance? YES

    Comment by LTR — May 23, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  39. A pretext traffic stop happens when a cop wants to (or has been directed to) harass a particular person and uses a minor and rarely if ever enforced infraction or non-existent condition to justify stopping the vehicle containing that person.

    If the “wrong” people were in and the “right” people were out, then the “right” people would be the “wrong” people and the “wrong” people would be the “right” people. As Reno Sweeney would say

    The world has gone mad today
    And good’s bad today,
    And black’s white today,
    And day’s night today,
    When most guys today
    That women prize today
    Are just silly gigolos
    And though I’m not a great romancer
    I know that I’m bound to answer
    When you propose,
    Anything goes

    Comment by Bill — May 23, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

  40. Who is Eric and what is his point? Kind of mushy posts…if you weren’t confused before…

    Comment by rochereau — May 23, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  41. Eric asked Happy Trails to identify himself, and Starr Kelso did so, maybe Eric would like to do the same?

    Comment by mary — May 23, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

  42. Mary,I never asked Happy Trails to identify himself. Twist as you might, all I did was point out how ironic it was to make a bold general statement about a persons integrity, a person who they may know nothing about hidden by a blog name. And to his credit Kelso said who he was.
    It appears that everyone here knows who everyone is, perhaps someone will send me the decoder ring and then I’ll know who’s who.

    Roch, I was anwsering Mary’s question as to do I think the city is being responsible? Quite frankly I don’t and pretty much stated the mantra here as it pertains to this particular issue. One that I agree with.

    On another point, who owns the gravel parking area south of the library by city hall?

    Bill thanks for the Pretext stop carifier, thought that’s what it meant. Do you really believe that happens here in Camelot?
    I know it’s unprovable and do believe it does happen in some places. My brother in law is a 20 plus year veteran from a much larger city, now a local officer, and he hasn’t heard anything like that going on. Granted he’s a solid person and may not be in the “pretext stop” loop as a result.

    Comment by Eric — May 23, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  43. Eric,

    A friend of mine and his wife were subjected to police harassment by pretext stops here. Yes, it happens.

    If you’re talking about the gravel lot that is immediately contiguous to City Hall, I believe it is owned by the City. The City parks its vehicles on that lot, hence it is not a public parking lot and is not required by ordinance to be paved. If you’re asking about a different lot, I don’t know.

    Comment by Bill — May 23, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

  44. With all due respect, Eric obviously does not own a business in downtown CdA.

    Comment by concerned citizen — May 23, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

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