OpenCDA

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…)

August 19, 2015

Berns Doesn’t Act Alone!

Berns for OpenCdaIn this morning’s editorial titled ignite cda:  Transparent as black tape,  the Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper lamented that it has yet again watched LCDC Schlockmeister Tony Berns reprise the role of the Governor in the musical Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

But Tony Berns does not act alone.  He has been empowered to be arrogant, evasive, and deceptive by the willful or ignorant actions or inactions of past and present members of the LCDC Board of Commissioners.  Here are the current Commissioners.

Berns’ sidestep dance experienced by the Press and recounted in today’s editorial sounds very similar to his response to us as detailed in our May 2007 Whitecaps blog post titled Official Ignorance.

It’s not the first time Berns has pulled the wool over the Press’s eyes.  In December 2006 Berns booted Press reporter Tom Greene from an LCDC Board meeting being held at one of the LCDC Commissioners’ homes.  Berns told Greene he had to leave the meeting because the LCDC was going into executive session.  It wasn’t.  Although the Press reported the deception in articles on December 21, 22, and 23,  an honest and competent editor and publisher would have been screaming for Berns’ head and the resignation in shame of every LCDC Commissioner who went along with it.  Patrick and Thompson didn’t scream; they whimpered.

The LCDC Board of Commissioners (or ignite cda Board of Commissioners if you prefer) have the authority to remove Berns. In our October 11, 2011, OpenCdA post titled Berns Must Go (And He Shouldn’t Go Alone)!, we called for Berns and some Commissioners to leave.  Of course, they didn’t.

In part because of the persistence of some Coeur d’Alene community watchdogs who became elected officials, notably Senator Mary Souza, Councilman Dan Gookin, and Representative Kathy Sims, the antics of Tony Berns and the inattentive cast of clowns at the LCDC/ignite cda have come to the attention of other officials in the state.  What some state officials in the past have dismissed as “just a Coeur d’Alene problem” is now being recognized as symptomatic of larger statewide issues.  In its 2015 session, the Legislature approved the formation of the Urban Renewal Interim Committee, its charge being “To undertake and complete a study of urban renewal plans and issues.”

Regardless of what the Legislature’s Urban Renewal Interim Committee recommends, we hope that Tony Berns and several Commissioners of the LCDC/ignite cda will soon be gone.  They are “underperforming“.

February 4, 2015

Oh, Please!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 3:19 pm

bullshitIf you haven’t read the Idaho Statesman article headlined 2014 concealed weapons law costs Idaho colleges $3.7 million, please take a few minutes and read it.  The article was written by Bill Dentzer and appeared online on February 3.

If the article can be believed, when the Idaho Legislature passed Senate Bill 1254 in the 2014 session, the presidents of the five schools mentioned in the article decided it was a license for them to go on a spending spree to upgrade their campus security programs.

Let’s be very clear:  The law did not prescribe upgraded security.  What these five college presidents did, they did on their own volition (but with your money).  Why? (more…)

January 21, 2015

You’re Fired!

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:54 am

embezzlementOpenCdA’s post on January 16, 2015, told readers how easily an employee of the city of Pasadena, CA, was able to allegedly embezzle about $5 million from the city.  We commented that a public entity’s supervisor(s) have a duty to competently and diligently administer their departments and supervise their subordinates so that kind of criminal activity can not occur.

In its article headlined Pasadena fires two ranking administrators amid embezzlement case, today’s Los Angeles Times is reporting that as a result of the arrest of former Pasadena employee Danny Wooten for allegedly masterminding the embezzlement, the city has fired Pasadena Finance Department Director Andrew Green and Public Works Department Director Siobhan Foster.  The city’s spokesflack confirmed the firings were related to the alleged embezzlement.

It’s apparent that the city of Pasadena, CA, understands that when an employee has allegedly been able to carry on an embezzlement over a period of several years, the employer must look at the diligence and quality of supervision of the employee and administration and auditing of financial programs.

OpenCdA wishes  Coeur d’Alene’s mayor and council had responded similarly after city Finance Department employee Sheryl Carroll was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to 40 months in federal prison in 2013.  But as we’ve noticed in Coeur d’Alene, looking the other way is often easier and more politically expedient that acting responsibly and appropriately.

Older Posts »

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