July 28, 2014

Mary Souza’s Newsletter: Who Is In Charge? — July 27, 2014

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 6:43 am

Souza Newsletter 07-27-14 pix

Mary Souza’s Newsletter

July 27, 2014

Who Is In Charge? (more…)

July 26, 2014

Deception By Omission

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 11:05 am

WriteToldMore and more it appears to OpenCdA that  the Coeur d’Alene Press newspaper is intentionally withholding important information about the shooting of Arfee the dog by a Coeur d’Alene police officer.

A line from The Spokesman-Review article dated July 25, 2014, and headlined Coeur d’Alene officers must view videos on encountering dogs reads, “Wood said the officer’s body camera was not in use during the confrontation with the dog.”  Wood is Sergeant Christie Wood, the Coeur d’Alene Police Department’s public information officer.

The Spokesman-Review’s article was picked up by the Associated Press and reported in the online Idaho Statesman, a Boise newspaper, in this article dated July 25, 2014, and headlined N. Idaho police to get training on dog encounters.   The Statesman’s article reads, “Sgt. Christie Wood, police spokeswoman, said the officer’s body camera wasn’t on at the time.”

Going back through the Coeur d’Alene Press online stories about the dog’s shooting, OpenCdA has been unable to find any Press reporting of that very newsworthy piece of information.

Why did The Spokesman-Review and the Idaho Statesman report the information but our own local newspaper,  the Coeur d’Alene Press, did not?  It was an important and very newsworthy revelation by the Coeur d’Alene Police Department’s public information officer, and it should have been reported in the local newspaper story.  Why wasn’t this reported?  What else is the Press willing to hide from its readers?

We also question why the Police Department released this piece of information now.  It is clearly a product of the internal investigation, and the City has assured its citizens that the results of the investigation will be made public after it has been reviewed by City managers and a third party.   Who authorized the release of the information attributed to Sergeant Wood?

July 25, 2014

What We Left Out …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:16 am

ALARCONOpenCdA left out something very relevant from yesterday’s post reporting the conviction of former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife on charges of voter fraud and perjury.  Thanks to alert reader and commenter Susie Snedaker for bringing the omission to our attention in her comment yesterday.

We agree with Susie:  The Los Angeles Times editorial posted online on July 23, 2014, and titled Alarcon prosecution sends the right message to other politicians, DAs is well worth reading.  Carefully.

The Times editorial board clearly gets it.  As they said in their editorial, “…, residency is in most cases a pretty good proxy for engagement with and knowledge of a district, and there is value in having a member of a community represent that community in government.”

We also completely agree with the Times editorial observation that, “The L.A. County district attorney’s office seems to be the only prosecutor in the state willing to bring these types of public integrity cases, and that’s a shame.”  Yes, it is a shame that is not limited to prosecutors in California.

But the Times editorial board saved its strongest point for last.  “The residency requirement is not a technicality; it’s a core tenet of our democratic system enshrined in the law. No politician should gain an advantage by lying, and no prosecutor should ignore evidence of voter fraud.”  To that we would add that no prosecutor and no judge is worthy of their position or the public’s trust and confidence if they ignore evidence of voter fraud and perjury.

Thankfully the Los Angeles County District Attorney, his Deputy DAs, and his Public Integrity Division take their sworn duties seriously.  We wish they would come visit Idaho.  Maybe some of that would rub off on prosecutors and judges here.

July 24, 2014

Guilty — Of the Crime That Doesn’t Exist…

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:31 am

ALARCONFormer Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife were convicted of voter fraud and perjury in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday.  Alarcon and his wife had lied about where he actually lived so he would be eligible to run for a particular Los Angeles City Council seat.  He and his wife both lied under oath in furtherance of his illegal candidacy.

Alarcon is not the first California official to be convicted of voter fraud in recent history.   In January 2014 State Senator Roderick Wright was convicted of voter fraud and perjury for lying about his residence so he could run for the state senate.

Fortunately for the citizens of Los Angeles County, they have a Prosecuting Attorney who takes public corruption seriously enough to have a Public Integrity Division in his office.   Here is more but somewhat dated information about the Division and a sampling of cases it has prosecuted.

There are many people who deny the existence of voter fraud.   It’s fair to say that many of the deniers are those who choose to engage in fraud as candidates or encourage it as lazy or incompetent county clerks and  secretaries of state as well as politically-directed prosecutors and state attorneys general.

As the State of California and Los Angeles County in particular have shown, they pursue voter fraud rather than deny it exists.

July 21, 2014

Don’t Start Construction Yet…

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 9:23 am

gallowsJudging from the comments we’re hearing and reading, it sounds as if a lot of people in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and surrounding communities are starting to build a virtual gallows to end the professional career of the Coeur d’Alene police officer who shot Arfee the dog in the parking lot next to Java on Sherman on July 9 in  downtown Coeur d’Alene.

OpenCdA thinks calling for the officer’s dismissal is premature.

As we pointed out in our July 11, 2014, post entitled Careless Composition or Intentional Deception?, there was a very substantial amount of evidence available at the scene and associated with the incident.  That evidence, properly identified, collected, and preserved, would have given a much clearer and more complete picture of not only what happened but why it happened.

But now we learn from the Sunday, July 21 Coeur d’Alene Press article headlined ‘Critical incident’ protocol not followed in dog shooting that some of the perishable contemporaneous evidence was not collected.  Thus the “complete and thorough” internal investigation promised by acting Police Chief Ron Clark is a factual impossibility.

Rather than answering questions, Sunday’s Press article raises others.

The discretionary decision to invoke or not invoke the critical incident protocol was made by whom?  That is not a decision made by the officer who fired the shot.  Who in the Department had the authority to make that decision, and who actually made it on July 9?  At what time on July 9 was the decision made?  It had to have been made very quickly, probably within minutes of the shooting, so the necessary steps could be taken to identify and protect the scene and the evidence associated with it — or abandon the scene quickly as apparently happened in this incident.

Sunday’s Press article extensively quoted John Parmann, Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training’s Region 1 Training Coordinator.  According to the article, Parmann said, “Credibility is important in this whole thing.   I don’t know what happened out there. I’m relying on a very thorough and objective investigation to find out what happened.”  He also said, “If corrections need to be made in procedures, that will be done.  It’s a learning opportunity for everyone, the public, agency heads and the people who train the officers and supervise the officers. Everybody has the opportunity to learn from this.”

Well, maybe.  There can’t and won’t be a “very thorough and objective investigation to find out what happened” because someone (certainly not the officer who fired the shot) determined there would not be one.  Oh, there will be an investigation, but it will not be thorough –  it can’t be now.  The Coeur d’Alene Police Department abandoned the incident scene before much of the evidence could be identified and preserved.   That was not the fault of the officer who fired the shot.

OpenCdA understands the public’s anger and frustration.

But we conclude by restating what we said in our July 11 OpenCdA post:  The officer who fired the shot did not act in a vacuum.  The action he took on July 9 was a function of the training and supervision he had received up to the moment he pulled the trigger.  To the extent his actions were provably contrary to that training and supervision and departmental policies and practices, he was culpable.  However, to the extent his actions were a function of incomplete and conflicting training and supervision as well as unclear or imprecise policies and practices, his culpability is shared equally by several above him including his field supervisor and watch commander, the department’s training officer, the department’s command staff, the chief, the Mayor and City Council, and the Idaho Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.


July 17, 2014

Ask Questions …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:53 am

trickThis morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press reported (see:  CoiNuts proceeding delayed) that, “The scheduled arraignment for CoiNuts owner-operator Kevin E. Mitchell didn’t proceed,” as scheduled on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.  

According to the article, public defender Linda Payne, representing defendant Kevin Mitchell, asked for the delay because she had not yet received the 725-page transcript of the grand jury proceeding.

Mitchell was indicted in late March 2014.  When did the public defender request the grand jury transcript?  Who was responsible for ensuring Mitchell’s attorney received it in time to prepare for his scheduled arraignment?  Was the delay in providing the grand jury transcript reasonable or unreasonable?  If it was unreasonable, then who was responsible for the unreasonable delay?

July 15, 2014

Proposed CdA City Ordinance Needs Work

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:29 am


The agenda for tonight’s regularly-scheduled meeting of the Coeur d’Alene City Council indicates that the Public Works Committee will ask the Council to consider Council Bill 14-1012 – Robot Regulation.  Here is the City Attorney’s Staff Report and DRAFT wording of the proposed ordinance as they appeared today on the City’s website.

OpenCdA notes that the proposed ordinance’s definition of “ROBOT” is “… a self-powered, programmable mechanical device capable of operating autonomously or via remote control.”

We think before passing this ordinance as written, the City Council needs to very thoughtfully consider the wide array of devices which that definition includes and which the Council is proposing to regulate in some form or another.  (more…)

July 13, 2014

Investigate and Report – Don’t Edit

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:37 am

Investigations-FactsThe shooting of a two-year old black Labrador mix dog by a Coeur d’Alene police officer last week has attracted deservedly unfavorable nationwide news media attention to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

In a Saturday skewspaper article headlined Image problem dogs police, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported “Widmyer [Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer] said the CPD [Coeur d'Alene Police Department ] is going to do an internal review of the dog shooting and have it reviewed by a third party before releasing the report.  ‘We want to make sure that we have covered all of our bases,’ he said.”

OpenCdA is not exactly sure how a CPD “internal review” and its report differs from a full investigation of the incident, but we firmly believe that a full investigation and report is not only warranted but essential for the public to understand the shooting incident.

Of one thing we are absolutely certain:  The report prepared by the CPD should not be edited by or on instructions from a third party as Widmyer’s remarks imply it could be.  We don’t know who the “third party” would be, but we believe the public would prefer and is entitled to hear the CPD’s version of what happened.  We believe that the citizens of Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County are fully capable of determining if the CPD’s version is plausible.

As for Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Mayor Steve Widmyer’s wanting “… to make sure we have covered all of our bases,” OpenCdA is concerned that it is not “our bases” Mayor Widmyer is interested in covering by not releasing the CPD report before it is reviewed by a third party.

July 11, 2014

Careless Composition or Intentional Deception?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:21 am

disinformation logoOn Wednesday, July 9, around 11 AM a Coeur d’Alene police officer shot and killed a dog inside a lawfully parked van in a coffee shop parking lot in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  A few hours after the incident, police SGT Jeff Walther issued a press release which according to the Coeur d’Alene Press read:

Coeur D’Alene Police Officers responded to reports of a suspicious van possibly watching young children in the Downtown Area parked in the parking lot behind 821 Sherman Avenue. Upon investigating the van, as the Officer approached along the driver’s side, a vicious Pit Bull dog lunged out the open driver’s side window toward the Officer’s face. The Officer fired one round from his service weapon as the dog lunged, striking the dog in the chest, dispatching it. The Officer was uninjured by the attack. The van was otherwise unoccupied. Officers are currently working to locate the owner of the van.

The Coeur d’Alene Press and the Spokesman-Review skewspapers, considered by many in the area to be little more than dead-tree mouthpieces for whatever fiction the elements of the City of Coeur d’Alene’s Ministry of Disinformation chooses to issue, dutifully printed all or part of the press release apparently before doing any follow-up or fact checking.

But then KREM-TV in Spokane did the unthinkable in the eyes of the CdA Ministry of Disinformation:  KREM went beyond the City’s press release and sought more information for its news story which aired at 5 and 6 PM.  And when it did, the CdA Ministry of Disinformation’s story began to come apart faster than a playful puppy’s chew toy. (more…)

July 9, 2014

Nagin to Prison for 10 Years — Corruption

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 9:18 am

NaginAccording to this New York Times article, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison.  Nagin was convicted on 20 federal corruption charges in February, mostly relating to kickbacks he solicited and received from contractors looking to get city work during his term as Mayor of New Orleans.

Why did Nagin go bad (assuming he wasn’t always a crook)?  Part of the answer may be revealed in this New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial:  Greed.

But greed is often just a convenient reason accompanying a more insidious trait common among corrupt public officials.  Often public officials become corrupt because they believe they are smarter than their victims (the public) and smarter than their adversaries in the criminal justice system.

Corrupt public officials also develop a sense of entitlement.   They begin to think that because they see themselves as altruistic public servants, they are entitled to take a little something for themselves.  After all, they are smarter than everyone else, so it’s only right that they should be compensated by their inferiors for their own superiority.

Greed, a sense of superiority, and a sense of entitlement.  Ray Nagin had all of those.  Now he will have ten years to think about better times.

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