May 13, 2015

What’s In A Name?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 11:50 am

HookervilleOpenCdA was amused to hear that the Spokane City Council got its knickers in a knot when one of Spokane’s community members used the term “Bridge to Hookerville” once too often in public comments.  The clever characterization refers to a pedestrian bridge intended to connect the north side of Spokane’s University District with the other side of the tracks, East Sprague Avenue.

However, we must admit being a bit confused.  We thought that “Bridge to Hookerville” referred to the vehicular bridge over Idaho’s U.S. 95 which connects Spokane’s back door (WA S.R. 278/ID S.R. 58) to the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel on the Coeur d’Alene Tribe reservation just north of Worley.    Readers will understand our confusion after reading the addresses of the “who got busted” list in the link.

May 3, 2015

Special Assistant US Attorney Program – Coeur d’Alene

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:48 am

RTSUSAO118Item 2 of the agenda for the joint Kootenai County Commissioners – Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting on May 4, 2015, reads, “2.  SAUSA Program (Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney) – Commissioner Green.”

OpenCdA wonders how many people in our area know anything about Idaho’s existing participation in the SAUSA Program?  For that matter, we wonder how many people here know much about the overall jurisdiction, authority, duties and responsibilities of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho?

We think some public discussion of this proposal would be beneficial to all.  (more…)

May 2, 2015

Coeur d’Alene to Propose Parking Ordinance Changes

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 7:24 am

changing the rulesThe City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, proposes to amend its city code regarding parking facilities.

Coeur d’Alene residents should take the time to understand how the proposed ordinance amendments will affect them.

Here’s a hint:  Get your checkbooks out. (more…)

April 27, 2015

April 25 Awards

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 8:17 am

awardsApril 25, 2015, should possibly be designated as “Idaho Journalism Awards Day.”  There were two equally meaningful and important sets of awards given out then.

The first was the Idaho Press Club Best of 2014 Annual Awards, and the second was the Max Dalton Open Government Award. (more…)

April 17, 2015

The Coeur d’Alene Deception: Councilman Gookin Responds

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 8:53 am

Investigations-FactsOpenCdA’s post on April 13, 2015, titled The Coeur d’Alene Deception questioned the legality of the City’s planned use of approximately $925,000 of the proposed $6 million public safety bond for police expenditures, mostly equipment.

We pointed out that Idaho Code § 50-1019 identifies very specifically which municipal expenditures are permitted to be funded by bond proceeds.   Based on the explicit wording of subsection 6 of Idaho Code § 50-1019, we did not question the legality of any of the proposed bond’s expenditures which would be used exclusively by the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department.

However, we pointed out that nowhere does that section of Idaho Code make any specific or even implied reference to bonding for police expenditures.   Given the permission is granted to not only the fire departments but also other specifically-named municipal departments and functions (hospitals, cemeteries, public parks, monuments, recreation facilities, libraries,  aviation facilities, flood control, transit systems, and zoos), we conclude that for whatever reasons, the Legislature appears to have intended to explicitly deny municipalities permission to use bond proceeds for police expenditures.   The statute makes no references to vague possible associations using such terms as “public safety” or “joint use.”

We put our concerns in an email to Coeur d’Alene City Councilmen Dan Gookin and Steve Adams on April 11, 2015.  We simply asked, “What is the statutory authority for having the bond proceeds used for anything except the Fire Department?”  We have received no response from Councilman Adams, however Councilman Gookin responded in his comment appended to our original post.

We will comment on some of Councilman Gookin’s bullet points. (more…)

April 13, 2015

The Coeur d’Alene Deception

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

Investigations-FactsIt appears to OpenCdA that the May 19 Coeur d’Alene $6 million, 10-year public safety bond election to fund capital expenditures for the police and fire departments violates Idaho law.

Idaho Code § 50-1019 explicitly identifies which municipal expenditures are permitted to be funded by bond proceeds.  Fire departments are included in that well-defined list, however the law does not even come close to including police departments.  The words “public safety” or “police” do not appear in the law.

But we’re not basing our concern on just our reading of the law.  We’re basing it also on the actions of Coeur d’Alene City Administrator Jim Hammond and his attempt to get his cronies in the Idaho Legislature to very quickly and quietly pass cover-up legislation with an “emergency” clause so the City of Coeur d’Alene could proceed to do lawfully that which the law does not permit it to do now.  (more…)

April 9, 2015

Governor Otter’s Veto of S 1011

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:08 am

gambling-games1For the reasons we offered in our posts on February 6, then on February 16, and finally on February 24, 2015,  OpenCdA applauds Governor Otter’s veto of S 1011 which, if enacted, would have repealed Idaho Code § 54-2512A.

Not surprisingly since it came out on the losing end so far, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe is screaming the loudest about the Governor’s veto.  (Addendum on 04-11-2015:  For a discussion of the timing of gubernatorial vetoes, see Cenarrusa v. Andrus, 99 Idaho 404, 582 P.2d 1082 (1978) .) (more…)

March 29, 2015

More Dishonest Idaho Officials

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 11:20 am

ignoring the law copySaturday’s Idaho Statesman newspaper reported that the Genesee, Idaho, city council got caught voting illegally by email not once, not twice, not three times, but four times during the past year.

The article reported that the city council had received training in the Idaho Open Meeting Law, so that would sure seem to make Genesee mayor Steve Odenborg a candidate for the Liar of the Year Award for his statement, “We had no intention of having any wrongdoing.”  Hey, Steve-O, violating the law is wrongdoing!  Or did those emails accidentally compose and send themselves?

Then again, this is Idaho, where no statutory violation of the public trust committed by a public official will ever be prosecuted, let alone punished.  It’s the Idaho way, don’t ya know.

Welcome to Idaho:  Esto perpetua corruptam

March 18, 2015

Arfee: Did Settlement Fix the Problem?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:19 am

sleight of handThis morning’s Coeur d’Alene Press is reporting that the Coeur d’Alene City Council agreed to an $80,000 out-of-court settlement with Craig Jones, the owner of Arfee, the dog shot and killed by a Coeur d’Alene police officer in July 2014.

The article included quotes from Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer who called the shooting “a mistake” and from Councilman Woody McEvers who seemed to conclude that money payoffs resolve everything.  Many of the online article’s commenters called for Officer Kelley to be fired.  None of them looked beyond the money settlement and asked if their solutions really solved the underlying problem.

As we suggested in our post entitled Careless Composition or Intentional Deception? on July 11 just two days after the shooting,  “… the examination of this incident must not be limited to the conduct of the officer who fired the shot.  We think it needs to go further to understand what in the officer’s mindset, supervision, and training led him to behave as he did in this incident.”

In our post on July 21, 2014, entitled Don’t Start Construction Yet…, we suggested:

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.

Since then, Coeur d’Alene has hired a new police chief, Lee White.  We hope that Chief White has begun to take the steps necessary to fix the real problem as we see it.  When both line and staff police officers engage in a series of entirely inappropriate actions as happened in the Arfee shooting, one line officer’s action involving lethal force (or as Widmyer dismissed it, “a mistake”) should lead to corrective actions well up the police department’s institutional food chain.

So we ask:  As a result of the lessons learned from the Arfee shooting, what has changed in the way Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s police officers are selected, trained, and supervised?

March 15, 2015

Recent IRS Public Corruption Cases of Note

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 6:52 am


Periodically OpenCdA puts up a link to synopses of recent public corruption cases successfully prosecuted by the federal government.

Here is a link to a few successful federal prosecutions thus far in fiscal year 2015 investigated primarily by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.  Following are the headlines of those cases included.  (more…)

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