May 8, 2016

Yantis Shooting Update

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 12:09 pm

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA’s earlier posts reported the death of Council, Idaho, rancher Jack Yantis after his encounter with two Adams County, Idaho, deputy sheriffs on November 1, 2015.

The Idaho State Police was asked to investigate the incident which resulted in Yantis’s death.

On March 10, 2016, the Idaho State Police delivered the results of its investigation to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.  The AG’s office is serving as the special prosecutor.

Between March 10, 2016, and today, there have been no news releases about this incident on the AG’s office Media Center webpage.  Presumably the AG’s assessment is to determine if any state criminal charges should be filed in Yantis’s death.

Shortly after the November 1 incident, a group of Council-area citizens started a Facebook page titled “Justice for Jack“.  It has been updated fairly regularly.

May 3, 2016

Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 4:12 pm

sheldonsilver-012215 copyOpenCdA’s post on December 1, 2015, titled Another Conviction for Corruption (Somewhere Else) reported the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) on federal corruption charges.

Today, May 3, 2016, Preet Bharara (D), the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that Silver was sentenced to 12 years in federal prision by US District Judge Valerie E. Caproni.  US Attorney Bharara’s formal announcement contains a good explanation of the crimes proven against Silver.  It also describes the schemes and mechanisms Silver used to sell his elected position in the New York State Legislature and thereby personally enrich himself.

We had to give Silver’s defense attorneys an “E” for Effort in invoking the unofficial and undocumented Idaho Standard frequently used by prosecutors as an excuse to not charge or to plead down sentences:  “Mr. Silver has demonstrated a capacity to do a tremendous amount of good for the public. His personality, vision, and persistence have been brought to bear with great effect.   It is doubtful this Court will ever sentence a defendant with as rich a record of doing so much for others.”  (see this Washington Post article).

Boy, were Silver’s defense attorneys ever wrong.

Public officials often rely on the advice of either their own or their governing body’s legal counsel, often assuming that reliance somehow makes them immune from the law and the court.  We remind those officials of what Silver learned today:  Every federal prisoner sitting (or soon to be sitting) in a federal prison was represented and advised by legal counsel.

Hi-yo, Silver!  Away!

April 30, 2016

Take a Bow,!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 2:23 pm

good job2OpenCdA thinks that website deserves a round of public applause for its recent series of posts about Kootenai County Commissioner David Stewart.

The applause is not only for the leg work Chester and his able associates did in obtaining and analyzing public records about Commissioner Stewart’s questionable permitting of his pole barn/house.

It is also for being able to light a fire under the Coeur d’Alene Press and forcing it to do its job in the public interest for a change.  The article in Friday’s skews paper headlined Commissioner faces permit violation was pretty clearly prompted by Chuckleberriesonline’s groundwork.    Sadly, The Spokesman-Review apparently lacks the will to try some actual news reporting in Idaho again.

It’s fair for the public to wonder if there is sufficient evidence to support criminal investigation and prosecution for the apparent deception.  Hopefully the Idaho Attorney General will be asked to exercise his authority under Idaho Code § 31-2002 and make that determination.

Regardless of the state’s action or inaction, we think deserves to take a bow!

April 27, 2016

A Better Alternative

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 10:31 am

cpd-station-signYesterday’s OpenCdA post entitled Nice Sentiment, Bad Idea disagreed with the City’s plan to honor the memory of Coeur d’Alene Police Sergeant Greg Moore with an artificial “water feature” in the park by the lake. We offered an alternative.

At the April 25th Coeur d’Alene General Services Committee, both Parks and Recreation Director Bill Greenwood and Mayor Steve Widmyer evaded questions about the cost of the water feature.  From today’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article headlined  Building the thin blue line:  Proposed McEuen water feature to honor Greg Moore, we learn that “Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer wants to memorialize the officer with a $750,000, privately funded, natural waterfall feature between the confluence of trails at the Fourth Street entrance to the park.

Our opinion expressed in our April 26th post has not changed.  Now that we know the Mayor is going to personally “… hit up businesses and ask for donations as well”, we feel even stronger that $750,000 in a fund to enhance the professional performance and development of Coeur d’Alene Police Department employees (not just sworn officers) would be the better alternative.

There can be fewer genuine honors to a police officer than to have his memory and name attached to something that improves the safety and quality of professional services delivered by his fellow employees.   We’re pretty sure we know what SGT Moore’s response would be if asked, “Which would you prefer? A monument to collect pigeon poop in the park or training which might make it possible for your fellow employees to perform more professionally and safely while policing their community?”

Training and professional development help retain good employees.  Training is a strong motivator.  It builds both confidence and professional pride in their chosen occupation.  In particular, interagency training builds interagency alliances which leads to the exchange of ideas that benefit all participants and their communities.

Instead of building a water feature, we would like to see a non-profit foundation started to administer the application and continuation of the initial $750,000 the Mayor has promised to raise.  It’s goal would be to effectively increase the professional competence of Coeur d’Alene Police Department employees so no more memorials to fallen employees would ever be necessary in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

April 25, 2016

Nice Sentiment, Bad Idea

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 1:35 pm

cpd-station-signAccording to the Coeur d’Alene General Services Commission’s agenda and packet for its regularly scheduled meeting on April 25, 2016, Coeur d’Alene Parks & Recreation Director Bill Greenwood will report that the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission will recommend that General Services approve the concept and location of the McEuen Water Feature.

It is only when readers look at the drawing accompanying Greenwood’s staff report do we learn the proposed name of the water feature:

ParkProposedSitePlanSergeant Greg Moore was a Coeur d’Alene police sergeant who was shot and killed on duty in May 2015.

While OpenCdA thinks this is a nice sentiment, we also think it is a very bad idea. (more…)

April 21, 2016

Has Coeur d’Alene Turned the Corner?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 4:06 pm

GoodSignAfter watching the live television broadcast of the April 19, 2016, Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting, OpenCdA is cautiously hopeful that maybe Coeur d’Alene’s city government has turned the corner and veered away from  looking for ways to steer lucrative municipal contracts to cronies and benefactors.

What we saw at Tuesday night’s meeting was the most encouraging sign we’ve seen in the last 15 years or so.   We saw the Council actually follow state law.  Some did it begrudgingly, but they did it nonetheless. (more…)

April 20, 2016

Accuracy? Who Cares?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 6:28 am

No We Dont CareOpenCdA has long suspected that the Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper’s publisher and editor are little more than parrots.   A parrot is a pet bird that can be taught to appear to speak by mimicking its owner’s or handler’s voice.

We saw pretty conclusive evidence confirming our suspicion in the April 18, 2016, Press “news” article headlined Democrats:  Don’t support Kunishiga [sic] for sheriff.  Coeur d’Alene resident Tina Kunishige is a Democrat candidate for Kootenai County Sheriff in the November 2016 election.

Read the linked Press article closely.  Including the headline, candidate Kunishige’s surname  has been misspelled five times.  Not once in the article was it spelled correctly.

Now read a letter to the editor attributed to Paula Neils, Chair, Kootenai County Democrats.  It’s in the April 20, 2016, Press.  It is headlined SHERIFF:  Non-support for Kunishiga [sic].   Including the letter’s headline, candidate Kunishige’s surname was misspelled four times.  Not once in the letter was it spelled correctly.

Looking beyond the misspellings, compare the words and sentence structure in both the “news” article and the letter to the editor.

Neils speaks — Patrick parrots.

April 18, 2016

‘Rise of the Rocket Girls’

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 3:23 pm

Rise of the Rocket GirlsThere ought to be at least one copy of this book in every high school library and public library in the United States.

Through diligent and thorough research, masterful storytelling, and skillful writing, author Dr. Nathalia Holt introduces readers to the women who did the math behind the United States’ missile and space programs.   They were  computers.

“Before Apple, before IBM, and before our modern definition of a central processing unit partnered with memory, the word computer referred simply to a person who computes.  Using only paper, a pencil, and their minds, these computers tackeled complex mathematical equations.” (p. 13)

Rise of the Rocket Girls is the personal and professional stories of women who were  computers at the Army’s Air Corps Jet Propulsion Research Project in Pasadena, California.  It was the beginning of what would become the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).   Some of the women were there from the early 1940’s during the days preceding 1958 when the Army handed over control of JPL to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

We suspect many readers will recognize the names Theodore von Kármán and Wernher von Braun and easily associate them with early US rocket science.  Fewer will recognize Barby Canright, Macie Roberts, and Barbara (Lewis) Paulson.  Yet had it not been for these Rocket Girls and the others including Janez Lawson, Helen (Yee Chow) Ling, Susan Finley, and Sylvia (Lundy) Miller, the US might not have put men on the moon and brought them home safely.  We might never have had Pathfinder that put the rovers Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity on Mars.

But why should Dr. Holt’s book be in every high school library in the United States?  Because Dr. Holt includes not just the historical information about the Rocket Girls.  She includes enough science and the discussion of the importance and relevance of math and science to also remind us of the importance the first Rocket Girls’ work done with “only paper, a pencil, and their minds” at JPL.

Those of us who struggle balancing our personal checkbooks can barely fathom the complexity and number of the Rocket Girls’ calculations needed to deliver a rocket to a planet millions of miles away, then place scientific instruments exactly where they need to be on that planet, then position a massive earth antenna to receive the data sent back from the low-power telemetry equipment.

When the first room-filling electronic computers found their way into JPL, it was the Rocket Girls’ knowledge of mathematics and the mission that enabled them to make the smooth transition from paper and pencil to FORTRAN.

This book is very readable.  It tells the story of the Rocket Girls, the women doing the math behind the US’s missile and rocketry development programs.   It talks of the CalTech Suicide Squad and the lovely and talented contestants for the Miss Guided Missile award.  It is inspiring.

April 16, 2016


Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 3:37 pm

GarbagePickupSaturday morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article by staff writer Devin Heilman was aptly headlined Sanitation service showdown.

At its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 19 at 6 p.m., the Coeur d’Alene City Council is scheduled to consider Resolution 16-020 awarding a ten-year contract with two three-year option extensions to Northern State PAK, LLC, d/b/a Coeur d’Alene Garbage Service.  This is an extremely lucrative contract (several million dollars) with a guaranteed ten-year revenue stream.

OpenCdA thinks the public needs to pay very close attention to this agenda item at Tuesday night’s meeting.  (more…)

April 6, 2016

Timely Library Book

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:43 am

BiblioTechCoverThe Wednesday, April 6, 2016, Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper online published an article (likely based on a press release from the Community Library Network) headlined Library Network talks planned.

OpenCdA urges Kootenai County taxpayers whose Kootenai County Tax Statement includes Taxing Districts identified as 271 – Com Lib Net J and 272 – CLN Bond J to pay close attention to the content of today’s skews paper article.  We will also want to follow the plans and progress of the Community Library Network library expansion.

To help readers better understand how libraries are changing and why modern and progressive ones like the Community Library Network are even more relevant today, we urge you to read Biblio Tech – Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google.  (Mouse-click on the book cover’s image to enlarge it.)  It was published in 2015 and is available from the Community Library Network.

Biblio Tech would be a good book to read before attending any of the meetings listed in today’s Press article.

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