OpenCDA

July 8, 2014

It’s a Start, We Suppose …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 1:46 pm

WrongWayIn its 2014 session, the Idaho Legislature took the smallest baby steps it could when it passed S 1369.  The bill was signed into law by the Governor on March 26, 2014, and went into effect on July 1, 2014.  It was not passed to encourage the systematic investigation and prosecution of corrupt public officials in Idaho.  It was passed to make Idaho’s county prosecuting attorneys more comfortable and politically safe.

This is made clear in the bill’s statement of purpose which reads, “This bill eliminates a conflict of interest that currently exists for county prosecutors.  County prosecutors represent county elected officials in their elected capacity, and also have a responsibility to deal with misconduct by those same county elected officials when they are acting in their official capacity.  This bill moves the misconduct authority to the Attorney General.”

The Idaho Attorney General’s homepage has a left-column button labeled “Public Corruption.”  Mouseclicking on that button will offer the reader links to two other webpages.  One of them is entitled, “Explanation of Duties and Responsibilities,” and the other is entitled, “Public Corruption Complaint Form.”

Reading the “Explanation of Duties and Responsibilities” page confirms that this new section of law “…authorizes the Attorney General to conduct ‘a preliminary investigation of any allegation of a violation of state law, criminal or civil, against a county officer occupying an elective office for violation of state law in his official capacity.’ ”

To make this crystal clear, the new law authorizes the Attorney General to conduct a preliminary investigation of allegations of misconduct only against  (1) County Commissioners; (2) County Prosecuting Attorney; (3) County Sheriff; (4) County Clerk; (5) County Assessor; (6) County Treasurer, and (7) County Coroner.

So in Kootenai County, for example, the new section of law authorizes the AG to investigate nine people, no more.   No one else unless the county prosecuting attorney invites the AG to come in.  (more…)

June 25, 2014

Remember This?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 2:53 pm

Under_the_Rainbow_cropped3b3adfRemember this?  Its title is “Under the Rainbow,” and nearly a year ago it was commissioned by the City of Coeur d’Alene Art Commission to be at the entrance to McEuen Park.  This little beauty was to go for a cool $100K.  At the time, the Arts Commissioners, the Mayor and many (but not all) of the City Council gushed about how beautiful this would be.

OpenCdA was given a peek of the Arts Commission minutes of the June 17, 2014, meeting.  It seems that the Commissioners’ attitudes may be changing now that the art has been accepted and installed and the check written to the artist.

Here is what the minutes reflect Arts Commission members saying now about “Under the Rainbow” at their most recent meeting:  (more…)

June 22, 2014

Wise Words

Filed under: General — Bill @ 7:24 am

VinScullyOn June 18th, radio and television baseball broadcasting legend Vin Scully called the 19th no-hit baseball game of his career.  In today’s story headlined Vin Scully stays up to date with his no-hitter calls, Scully was asked the inevitable “Will you be back broadcasting next year?” question.

Scully responded, “”I don’t want to just be hanging on.  That’s why I want to watch my work and, if I’m worthy of it, continue.”

Wise words spoken sincerely and honestly.  We don’t think Scully would mind if public officials emulated him and practiced similar introspection and humility.

June 20, 2014

J-1 Magistrate Commission Picks New Magistrate

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 3:01 pm

Judge copyThis morning’s local skewspaper, the Coeur d’Alene Press, informed its readers that the First Judicial District’s Magistrate Commission had picked Coeur d’Alene Deputy City Attorney Anna Eckhart to replace retiring Magistrate Penny Friedlander.

OpenCdA and several other very interested citizens sat through the six hours of interviews of the six finalists conducted by the Magistrate Commission.  Four of the 14 Commissioners were absent from the interviews.   OpenCdA’s request to review all 17 applicants’ application forms, letters of recommendation, and results of investigation had been denied on Wednesday by Trial Court Administrator Karlene Behringer.

Based only on the Thursday interviews, OpenCdA would agree that from among the four local applicants, Anna Eckhart was a suitable choice.

But among the six finalists there were two applicants who were not local.  They were passed over and were in our view superior to Eckhart and the other three local finalists in depth and breadth of legal practice experience in and out of the courtroom.  The two applicants who were rejected by the First District Magistrate Commission were Barbara Ann Duggan, a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney from Ada County, and James Craig, Assistant Chief Counsel of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Orlando, Florida.  Mr. Craig also has an advanced law degree, a Master of Laws from American University Washington College of Law(more…)

June 17, 2014

Kootenai County Magistrate Judge Finalists

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:33 pm

Judge copyAccording to First District Court Trial Court Administrator Karlene Behringer’s press release sent Monday, June 16th at 6:21 PM, the six finalists for the Magistrate Judge vacancy will be interviewed on Thursday, June 19th at 9 AM.  The six finalists are identified in the press release and include applicants from Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Rathdrum, and Orlando, Florida.

The interviews conducted by the Magistrate Commission will be open to the public, however the deliberations by the Commission will not.

Our call to Karlene Behringer with some questions about the process has not been returned.

Our OpenCdA post entitled Selecting a New Magistrate Judge posted on May 29th identified the members of the Magistrate Commission who will be conducting the interviews.  It also linked to the local skewspaper’s article identifying the 17 original candidates.

Historic Convention! – Mary Souza’s Newsletter, June 16, 2014

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:14 am

06-16-2014 Souza Newsletter - Historic ConventionHistoric Convention!

(more…)

June 15, 2014

Judicial Confirmation – Bypassing Voters

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:20 am

sleight of handThe June 5, 2014, Coeur d’Alene Press skewspaper article headlined Judicial OK sought on jail was uninformative and in one instance, misleading about the statutory process of judicial confirmation.  The article was correct about one thing:  It is the method which two of the three Kootenai County Commissioners and the Sheriff have chosen to bypass the voters in Kootenai County.

However, we wish Press staff writer David Cole and his editor and publisher had done a better job of explaining what judicial confirmation is and how the Legislature intended for it to be used appropriately.  OpenCdA will try to fill in some of the blanks left by the Press. (more…)

June 3, 2014

Guilty!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 12:19 pm

CannonOur post on March 27, 2014, reported the arrest of Charlotte, NC, Mayor Patrick Cannon on federal corruption charges.  It reported the details of the various allegations against Cannon.

Today the Charlotte Observer newspaper reported that Cannon has pleaded guilty to one federal corruption charge.  The allegations resulted from a four-year investigation of Cannon in which it was shown Cannon took bribes to help developers.

Typical of corrupt public officials, Cannon sought to minimize the seriousness of his offenses.  He had accepted bribes, however he referred to this as “accepting money for constituent services.”

Cannon faces up to 20 years in federal prison for his guilty plea.  Or perhaps Cannon would prefer to think of his prison sentence as “an extended vacation in an exclusive, taxpayer funded facility.”

May 31, 2014

Coeur d’Alene Proposes (Another) Police Substation

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:15 am

1424 E. Sherman-sizedThe agenda for the June 3, 2014, Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting notes the Council will be asked to approve “…the funding and authorization of staff to negotiate a lease agreement with Eastlake, LLC. and expenses for an East Sherman Police Sub-station.”  The staff report (at online Council packet pages 40/61-42/61) presented to the City’s General Services Committee lists the address as 1424 E. Sherman Avenue in the body of the report.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, there is no “Eastlake, LLC.”  However, the website does list “East Lake, L.L.C.” with a business address of 1424 Sherman Avenue, Ste. 300, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83814.  Here is more information about East Lake, L.L.C. from the Secretary of State’s website.

Long-time readers may recall that in April 2008 OpenCdA raised strong objections to the City’s ill-conceived and wasteful Public Safety Substation in the Park.  Some of those objections came from the unwillingness or inability of then-Chief Wayne Longo and Captain Steve Childers to provide satisfactory answers to some fairly basic questions we thought Council should ask so it could determine if the proposal could successfully achieve the Mayor and Council’s objectives for public safety.

We think those questions and others still need to be asked by Council and answered by the present project’s proponents.  (more…)

May 30, 2014

School Construction Corruption?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:25 am

corruptionThe Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper is reporting today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the Rochester City School District and some of its contractors in a bid-rigging and kickback scheme.  Some of the underlying details of the alleged frauds committed are outlined in the D&C article.

OpenCdA has put up several posts describing the basis for and workings of Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission looking into the extensive corruption in Quebec’s construction industry.

It will be interesting to follow developments in the FBI’s investigation of the Rochester, New York, school district’s contracting practices.  School districts may be especially vulnerable to the type of fraud alleged in Rochester, because quite often their administrators and patrons just cannot imagine that their community’s predators in the construction industry would take advantage of their gullibility and vulnerability.

Of course to crooks, a dollar is a dollar.  While not all in the construction industry are crooks, some are, and school district boards have a duty to the district’s patrons to safeguard the money entrusted to them.  Board members must remember that their duty is to the district’s patrons and students, not to local industry.

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