OpenCDA

July 29, 2017

Debbie Does Dulles

DWSchultzOn Monday, July 24, 2017, Special Agents of the US Capitol Police (USCP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Capitol Hill IT contractor Imran Awan as he tried to board an airplane at Dulles International Airport and fly to his homeland of Pakistan via Qatar.   The FBI affidavit supporting his arrest alleges Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, filed a fraudulent mortgage loan application.

Hina Alvi had already pulled their children out of school, stuffed over $12,000 in cash and some household goods in cardboard boxes, and left the United States (some might say “fled the United States”) for Pakistan.

Before July 24th, few readers could probably recall hearing anything about Imran Awan.   They might have heard something about some damaged computer equipment belonging to some members of Congress being found at a home rented by Awan and his wife.   They might have read deep into the already sketchy skews stories that one of the computers found belonged to Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  In fact, good ol’ Debbie threatened the USCP in public if it dared process the purloined computer for evidence.

Otherwise, because the AWAN storyline did not involve pimping unsubstantiated gossip about President Trump’s “collusion” with Russia, the national skews media weren’t especially interested.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.  Move along.

Except there was and is something to see.

It seems that Representative Schultz had arranged for Industrious Imran to be the go-to IT contractor for several Democrat members of the House of Representatives, some of them on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  In fact, Industrious Imran and his partners had each been raking in an unusually high amount of money from these contracts for several years.

OpenCdA urges our handful of readers to take the time and read the series of articles by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

There are quite a few reasonable and interesting questions likely to be asked by the USCP and the FBI to determine if the computers and the emails on them contained any personal or national security information that could be used to manipulate and control the members of Congress on behalf of any foreign intelligence service.

May 5, 2017

Nault Wrongful Death Lawsuit Complaint

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 9:45 am

DisingenuousAs reported in OpenCdA’s May 3, 2017, post entitled Be Strong and Take Courage …, family members of Reginald J. ‘Reggie’ Nault have filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit in Mr. Nault’s death.

OpenCdA has obtained a copy of the initial complaint for damages and demand for jury trial filed in Idaho’s First Judicial District Court on May 2, 2017, at 5:05 p.m.

In addition to identifying the plaintiffs and defendants specifically and individually by name and establishing the jurisdiction and venue of the Court, the complaint particularizes each specific allegation the plaintiffs believe they can prove at trial.

OpenCdA’s preceding posts concerning Mr. Nault’s death raised questions about the quality and timeliness of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office investigation and its unwillingness to release the investigative reports to the Nault family.  We also raised concerns about the conflict asserted by Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh when the ‘conflict’ attorney, Boundary County Prosecutor Jack Douglas’s press release stated, “However, based on my review of this event and applicable Idaho law, I have determined that no criminal act can be shown to be a direct cause of Mr. Nault’s death.  Therefore, charges will not be filed against anyone by my office.”  [emphasis OpenCdA’s]

Paragraph 2.20 and in particular its subparagraphs 2.20.a through 2.20.i in the complaint allege circumstances which, if sufficient evidence exists to show probable cause, would warrant the filing of some criminal charges.   Paragraphs 3.2.z  through 3.2.bb specifically cite Idaho statutes which plaintiffs believe were violated.

Even if we and our readers believe Mr. Douglas’s assessment of evidence and applicable law was appropriate when his office declined to file charges against anyone because no criminal act could be shown to be a direct cause of Mr. Nault’s death, the failure to explain why other possibly appropriate criminal charges were not filed certainly raises valid questions.

The public has a legitimate interest in examining the professional conduct of its elected officials.  The Sheriff and the Prosecuting Attorney are not exempt from that examination.

OpenCdA believes the evidence admitted in court in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Reggie Nault’s family should contribute to the public’s assessment of the official performance of duties by Kootenai County Sheriff Benton Wolfinger and Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh.

Additionally, we believe that it will give the public the opportunity to assess the performance of the First Judicial District judge who ultimately hears the case.

To the extent that other elected officials not yet named in any complaint may have received some or all the results of the investigation while those same results were being withheld from the Nault family, we think those officials’ conduct and the conduct of the investigative information provider(s) are deserving of public scrutiny as well.

We hope that the public will pay close attention to the news coverage and reporting of this trial by local and regional newspapers and television stations.    We hope that the news media will carefully and thoroughly question and then timely, completely, and accurately report inconsistencies between the trial evidence and the public officials’ statements and characterizations of that evidence.

Finally, we hope that on his own initiative,  Idaho Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden pays very, very close attention to the filings and evidence in this civil lawsuit.  His office has statutory jurisdiction as well as a duty and responsibility to investigate if the evidence presented in court reveals violations of state criminal law by county officers who hold elective office.   In this particular lawsuit, the county officers most directly involved who hold elective office would include Kootenai County Sheriff Benton Wolfinger, Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh, and Kootenai County Coroner Warren Keene.

April 22, 2017

‘ALL’ ? Really?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 7:39 am

DisingenuousSeveral earlier OpenCdA posts beginning with the one entitled ‘In Search of Facts’ on October 20, 2015, commended Reggie Nault’s family for engaging attorney Lee James to try and shovel the details of the investigation into Mr. Nault’s death from under the increasingly lumpy Kootenai County rug.

The headline of the article in today’s Coeur d’Alene Press says it all:   ‘Judge:  Release Nault Records‘.

As reported, First District Court Judge Rich Christensen has ordered Kootenai County Sheriff Benton Wolfinger to turn over ALL of the Nault records to Mr. Nault’s family.   Sadly, the Nault family had to get a court order to force Wolfinger to release the records.  Unsurprisingly, Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh sought to help Wolfinger keep information in the records from ever seeing the light of day.

There were some questions we would expect to have been fully and completely answered in the investigative reports prepared by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office investigators.  They include:

What adults were present on the boat and at the dock?  Whose boat was it?  Who was operating the boat?  What was the boat operator’s degree of impairment?  Or was the operator’s impairment even determined by Sheriff’s deputies?  What was the unexpurgated timeline of events surrounding the incident?  From the moment Mr. Nault went into the water, who did what and when did they do it?  Was evidence of alcohol consumption by minors concealed by the minors or any adults present?  If other crimes were committed which contributed to Mr. Nault’s death or which hindered the investigation into it, why were those crimes not charged by the Kootenai County Prosecutor or a ‘conflict’ attorney from another county?

Now we hope either or both our local and regional skews papers do their  job as (alleged) newspapers and file public records requests to examine ALL of the records Judge Christensen ordered to be released.   We would also hope that the papers publish complete and accurate stories that enable readers to fully evaluate the competence and performance of the County Sheriff and the County Prosecuting Attorney.

We’re not holding our breath on that.

In the past, both the Coeur d’Alene Press and The Spokesman-Review have appeared inclined to under-report stories revealing the job performance of public officials they favor in Kootenai County.

We think that in particular, both papers ought to look closely at the number and nature of ‘conflicts’ that Prosecutor Barry McHugh declares when he farms cases out to prosecuting attorneys in other counties.   That information is one of the valid job performance assessment tools available to voters.

We also think that the papers ought to look at the quality of the investigation done by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.  A poor or incomplete initial investigation into an unattended death reflects as badly on a department’s leadership, supervision, and training as it does on the investigators who completed it.  At the same time, it is not unheard of in some law enforcement agencies to occasionally have investigators’  reports adjusted by supervisors in the interest of political expedience or out of consideration for the social standing of some involved.

As we did in our initial OpenCdA post on October 20, 2015, we once again sympathetically commend the Nault family for their decision and efforts to pursue the facts surrounding Reggie Nault’s death.   Unfortunately, it took an order of the Court to get it done, but we offer a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to the Nault family and their attorney Lee James for fighting to get it.

January 13, 2017

What About The Public Interest?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 7:04 am

Questions copy copyThe Coeur d’Alene Press published an article on Thursday, January 12th, headlined Nault’s Family Wants Answers.   The article’s lead read, “A year and half after a popular Coeur d’Alene High baseball player drowned in Lake Coeur d’Alene, his mother and sister still don’t know exactly what happened.”

Unfortunately, it was a typical Press “emotion” piece, an article more focused on telling the public how the Nault family feels rather than giving the Nault family or us substantive information.  It’s information the public needs to evaluate how well or how poorly the Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger and the Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh are performing their official duties.

The Nault family is absolutely entitled to know the answers to the questions Mr. James posed in the article.

So is the public.  There is a valid  public interest in determining if Reggie Nault’s death was thoroughly and competently investigated and if all those who contributed materially to his death were prosecuted.  There is certainly a valid public interest in knowing if official favoritism was shown toward some who should have been prosecuted for incidental crimes (e.g., Destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence) but were not.

The county sheriff and the county prosecutor are elected officials.  The questions posed by the Nault family in Thursday’s article and the questions OpenCdA raised in our earlier posts in 2015 and 2016 are still valid.  It appears they’re also still unanswered.   The results of the Nault death investigation and any investigations into the related conduct of involved adults  and juveniles will allow the public to better evaluate the official performance of elected officials including the sheriff, the prosecutor, and judges.

Certainly the Nault family’s feelings are important. OpenCdA gives attorney Leland James respectful credit for pushing the feckless Coeur d’Alene Press to perform as a newspaper rather than the image protector of elected officials.

December 8, 2016

‘Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base’

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:04 am

warnings-unheeded

On June 20, 1994, Dean A. Mellberg, a former US Air Force airman returned to Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, with a rifle.  He specifically targeted Major Thomas Brigham, M.D., and Captain Alan Landon, Ph.D.  After entering the base hospital and killing his intended targets, Mellberg continued to shoot and kill everyone he could including eight year old Christin McCarron.  Mellberg’s mass murder attack was stopped only when he was shot and killed by Senior Airman Andy Brown, a security police officer assigned to the 92nd Security Police Squadron at Fairchild.

Then on June 24, 1994, a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress crashed at Fairchild Air Force Base while rehearsing maneuvers for an annual air show.  The B-52 was piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur “Bud” Holland.  The crash killed Holland and three other crew members.

Aside from geographic coincidence, the two incidents had something else in common:  There had been many credible warnings that both Dean Mellberg and Bud Holland represented a serious, likely life-threatening danger to their fellow airmen.  The warnings had gone unheeded.

In his just-released book Warnings Unheeded:  Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base,  (WU Press, Spokane, Washington, (c)2016 Andy Brown, ISBN 978-0-9978634-0-6,) author Andy Brown explains the unheeded warnings in a remarkably well-researched and very readable book.    If his book stopped there, it would be worth reading by every supervisor at every level of public service and private industry.  But Mr. Brown went further and revealed the personal challenges he faced in his own journey from Trauma to Recovery.   His revelation elevates the importance of his book to an entirely new level.

Andy Brown’s book has not received much national attention.  It should.  Warnings like the ones unheeded at Fairchild Air Force Base leading up to the events of June 1994 are not restricted to any particular institution or by geographic location.

Warnings Unheeded:  Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base is available from Amazon.com.  It is also available from the Hayden Branch of the Community Library Network of Kootenai and Shoshone Counties in Idaho.

Author Andy Brown is scheduled to appear on Saturday, December 10, 2016, from noon until 2 p.m. at a book signing at Center Target Sports, 3295 E. Mullan Avenue, Post Falls, ID 83854.

April 2, 2016

Change in CdA Council Meeting Time?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:35 am

clockat515Citizens who pay attention to what the Coeur d’Alene City Council does will want to look carefully at the online agenda for the council meeting on April 5.  This agenda was retrieved at 7 AM on Saturday, April 2.

First, note the time-date line above agenda item ‘A’ shows that the meeting begins at 5:15 PM, not the usual 6 PM.

Second, note that agenda item ‘A’ and agenda item ‘M’ show the Council in Executive Session.  That is not a typographical error; the Council intends to hold two Executive Sessions during this meeting.    However, if the Agenda is followed as published, it will create a violation of Idaho’s Open Meetings Law.

The Open Meetings Law does not forbid multiple executive sessions in the same public meeting.  The Council is allowed to have more than one Executive Session as long as each is properly noticed on the council meeting agenda and convened only after passage of the statutorily required motion.

But the agenda published online and linked above shows that the first item of business at 5:15 p.m. will be conducted in Executive Session.  The next item of business after that would convene the public City Council meeting.  That would violate Idaho’s Open Meetings Law.

The Open Meetings Law absolutely requires that before going into Executive Session, the Council must first convene a properly announced public meeting, then during that meeting offer and pass a motion to go into Executive Session.  The Law forbids using an Executive Session “… for the purpose of taking any final action or making any final decision.”  Because the Executive Session motion results in a final action or final decision, it must be passed and memorialized in the minutes of the already-convened public meeting.

If Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor, City Council, City Administrator, City Clerk, and City Attorney care about following the Open Meetings Law, they need to amend the agenda as provided by the Law.  The agenda needs to be formally amended to simply reverse the position of agenda items ‘A’ and ‘B’.  The Tuesday, April 5, 2015, Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting needs to be convened in open session before the motion to go into Executive Session can be offered and passed.

March 23, 2016

Even Later to the Party …

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 12:15 pm

EDITBOARDOur post entitled Late to the Party on October 27, 2015, pointed out that even back then, Coeur d’Alene Press Publisher Jim Thompson (left in photo) and Editor Mike Patrick were waaaaay late to the urban renewal agency examination party.

Well, again today Frick and Frack demonstrated their remarkable ability to editorialize in arrears. This morning’s editorial was headlined You can’t blame ’em for asking.

The editorial finally and we suspect begrudgingly acknowledged that for years Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, ignite cda (née Lake City Development Corporation), had been engaging in “… the practice of lining friendly pockets under the guise of resurrecting worn-down parts of town.”

Honest and diligent citizens like Mary Souza, Dan Gookin, Kathy Sims, Sharon Culbreth, Frank Orzell, and others have been delivering the evidence of that practice for years.    The Press chose not to investigate and then report it as news.

But today’s editorial contained a real whopper. (more…)

November 6, 2015

Fraudulent Steering

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:50 am

barbara-byrd-bennett copy“Fraudulent steering” has nothing to do with automobile recalls.

It has everything to do with a dishonest Chicago Public Schools (CPS) official, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was the putative decision-maker in deciding which two education consulting companies would get a $23 million no-bid contract to provide consulting services to CPS.

One of Babs’ criteria for fraudulently steering the contract to the companies was evidently how much they would be willing to kick back to her in return.   The kickback netted her a cool $2.3 million.

And now the FBI is looking closely at what Babs did as the Chief Accountability Officer in the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) before she went CPS.  The allegation filed in federal court is that she fraudulently steered a DPS textbook contract worth $40 million to a publishing house, Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, where she had formerly worked.

For an interesting take on Babs’ bribery, see the article headlined Blaming Byrd-Bennett won’t end CPS corruption in The Depaulia, the student newspaper of DePaul University.

Contracts do get steered to preferred vendors and suppliers.  A red flag the size of a large empty hole in the ground  should start waving when a contract is worth a lot of money and is awarded to a sole-source without honest competitive bidding.   It’s a form of bid-rigging.

Fortunately, it only happens in Chicago or Detroit or Atlanta or …  But it could never happen in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

September 24, 2015

Will Port of Hope Move to Post Falls?

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

portofhomeOpenCdA has received word that northern Idaho’s Port of Hope, Inc., currently in Coeur d’Alene, has applied for a special use permit to establish a federal residential re-entry center in Post Falls.  We believe this will result in the closure of the Coeur d’Alene facility which has been in operation since 1998.

OpenCdA fully understands the Port of Hope’s apparent desire to leave Coeur d’Alene.  The shameful efforts by members of the City of Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission with help from employees of School District 271 to run Port of Hope out of town in 2013 were documented in this series of OpenCdA posts.   Thankfully, the Coeur d’Alene City Council resoundingly rejected those efforts in its meeting on October 1, 2013.

We hope that the members of the Post Falls Planning & Zoning Commission will look at our posts linked above.   These posts revealed how hysteria and deception can drive a completely unsupported decision in a planning commission hearing.  Our hope is that however the Post Falls Planning & Zoning Commission rules on Port of Hope’s application, the Commissioners’ votes will be based entirely on their objective evaluation of the relevant evidence presented during the hearing.

September 13, 2015

Otter’s Veto: Intentionally Illegal?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 7:51 pm

gambling-games1For the reasons we’ve beaten to death in our earlier posts concerning historic horse racing machines in Idaho, OpenCdA agreed with Governor Otter’s decision to veto S 1011 passed during the 2015 legislative session.  That bill repealed Idaho Code § 54-2512A.  His decision to veto the repeal effort was the right one.

However, we also agree with the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision released September 10, 2015, to overturn Otter’s veto.  Otter bungled the veto.  It is impossible for us to believe that an honest, competent, and experienced governor could accidentally or even carelessly mess up the state’s clearly defined veto process.

To OpenCdA it looks as if Governor Clement L. Otter intended for his veto to be unable to withstand the inevitable and ultimately successful legal challenge that was mounted against it. (more…)

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress
Copyright © 2017 by OpenCDA LLC, All Rights Reserved