OpenCDA

September 16, 2014

Idaho Statesman Op-Ed Missed the Mark

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 12:04 pm

Missed the MarkThis morning’s Idaho Statesman opinion piece was entitled Our View:  Police, dog owners must share responsibility.  The unnamed writer was commenting, collectively, on three recent shootings of pet dogs by Idaho law enforcement officers.

The op-ed writer mentioned Coeur d’Alene, so we presume he was including the Arfee killing by a Coeur d’Alene police officer.  If so, the writer might want to reread the officer’s account of the shooting.  According to the officer, Arfee appeared suddenly in the partially open van window just inches from the officer’s face.  In what sounds to us to be a “startle” reaction, the officer fired his already-unholstered weapon once and killed Arfee.

The op-ed writer’s first premise was that in most and maybe every instance, there should be enough time for an officer to carefully assess a dog’s various behaviors and then set a non-lethal course of action. His second premise is that an unattended but lawfully and safely contained dog will always obey commands from a police officer or an animal control officer.

We address the op-ed writer’s second premise first.  It’s absurd.

The first premise is very desirable, but it will require the police to do more than just learn dog behaviors.  They will need to adjust their approach to various situations so that “startle” reactions are less likely to result in gunfire.  In the Arfee killing, we wonder:  Why had the officer unholstered his weapon?  If his overall assessment of the situation required (in his mind)  unholstering his weapon, might there have been actions he and his trainee partner and additional officers could have taken first to preclude the perceived necessity of unholstering his weapon and thereby being at risk of a “startle” shooting?

We admit it:  We are second-guessing.  Then again, we have little choice.  The first guesses — the ones that result in training, policy, and procedures — needed to have been taken by the Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, the Coeur d’Alene Chief of Police, and the Coeur d’Alene Police Department training officer.  Apparently, they weren’t.

OpenCdA wishes that when there are serious incidents like the ones mentioned in today’s op-ed, the Idaho Statesman and the rest of Idaho’s (alleged) news media would focus as much on the failures of command and leadership in Idaho’s law enforcement agencies and the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training Council as they focus on the behavior of the individual officer who pulled the trigger.

September 15, 2014

We Shouldn’t Be Surprised…

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

WrongWayThe conduct by Coeur d’Alene police officers that led to the Barnhouse federal lawsuit against the police and the Arfee killing by the police shouldn’t really surprise us.

When police departments seek to waive relevant entrance, retention,  training, and integrity standards, it is inevitable that some unsuitable applicants will be hired and retained.  And when those requests for waivers are rather routinely granted by the state’s law enforcement certification agency, it should not surprise readers to know that cities and counties are more than happy to pump out the waiver requests if it will enable them to reduce hiring and retention costs.

It happens in Idaho.  (more…)

September 12, 2014

“Underperforming”

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 9:00 am

ANTHONY-DRAKE

In its September 12 article headlined Artist defends rainbow, the Coeur d’Alene Press reports that artist Howard Meehan has agreed to work with the City to “enhance” his art piece titled Under the Rainbow.

Our OpenCdA post on June 25, 2014 titled Remember This? outlined several of the issues prompting today’s Press skewspaper article.  One of the most tasteless and offensive comments we reported came from now-Arts Commission Chairman Jennifer Riggs Drake. As the minutes of the June 17, 2014 meeting of the Arts Commission recount, “Commissioner Drake said that she thinks that a lot of people agree that the arch is under-performing and that putting the [McEuen] logo on it doesn’t take care of that issue.” (more…)

September 9, 2014

Arfee Observations

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , , — Bill @ 8:24 am

Investigations-FactsOn the morning of Friday, September 5, 2014, the City of Coeur d’Alene posted some of the documents from the police department’s report on the shooting of Arfee, a black Labrador mix, by a Coeur d’Alene police officer on July 9.  The online compilation was captioned Craig Jones Case Documents.  For simplicity, we’ll simply refer to that compilation as “the Arfee report.”

Starting on July 11, OpenCdA has put up several posts about the shooting death of Arfee by the Coeur d’Alene Police Department officer.   In general, the Arfee report had nothing to significantly change the opinions we expressed in those posts.

We do have a few observations now that we’ve been able to read the Arfee report.  (more…)

August 28, 2014

Verdun d’Alene?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 2:56 pm

slippery slopeOpenCdA has been following the Canadian news media’s reporting of the Quebec corruption scandal and its investigation by the Charbonneau Commission.

The focus of the Charbonneau Commission’s investigation is Quebec’s “…deeply-rooted system of kickbacks, bribes and illegal fundraising that link the province’s construction industry to politicians and civil servants.”  We touched on that in our June 22, 2013, post entitled “Corruption becomes a kind of cancer”.

In its online story on August 26, 2014, headlined Bending of rules cost Verdun taxpayers $1.5 million in lost revenue, mayor says, the Gazette [montrealgazette.com] provides an ultra-simple explanation of how officials in Montreal’s borough of Verdun managed to make sure their cronies enriched themselves at the expense of Verdun’s citizens.  Verdun has a population of about 66,000.

Fortunately, that kind of cronyism and favoritism never happens here in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

August 25, 2014

Business As Usual

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 6:52 pm

stink-o-meter copyWe are disappointed that Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer seems to be following the lead set by his predecessor Sandi Bloem.

Bloem liked to pack unelected committees and commissions with cronies and headnodders who would apply the rubber-stamp of approval to almost any big-dollar deal without considering if it was in the best interests of the City’s reputation or its people.

Thursday’s Coeur d’Alene Press “news article”  titled Four corners report reveals that Widmyer is showing he’s no different.  In fact, he likes to use some of the same cronies and headnodders.  Of the nine advisory committee members named in the “news article,” eight have exceedingly well-developed headnodder muscles toned by years of subservience.  To us, only the BLM realty specialist might appear to be considered objectively independent. (more…)

April 15, 2014

Just Down the Street…

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

CudahyJust down the street (that would be Atlantic Avenue) from scandal-ridden Bell, California, is the city of Cudahy (pronounced “cudda’-hee” or “cudda’-hay”).  In fact Bell is Cudahy’s next-door neighbor to the north.  It appears that Cudahy and Bell share more than just a border.

In an online story dated April 15, 2014, and headlined State accuses small city Cudahy of large spending irregularities,  Los Angeles Times reporters Jeff Gottlieb and Stevel Marble reveal that California State Controller John Chiang today released the state’s City of Cudahy – Review Report – Administrative and Internal Accounting Controls for the period July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2012.  (Note:  Times reporter Gottlieb updated this story and added details in a later one headlined Audit faults Cudahy as government in chaos.)

The essence of the state’s Review Report can be summed up in the first sentence of the Conclusions section:  “We found the City of Cudahy’s administrative and internal accounting control deficiencies to be serious and pervasive.  As a result, the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse is very high.” (more…)

January 9, 2014

Why So Many Corruption Posts?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 4:19 pm

corruptionToday a person in line with me at Starbucks asked why OpenCdA puts up so many posts about corruption and corrupt public officials.

It was a fair question, and I gave her a two-part answer.

Part One:  Our local and regional news media report nothing that would help educate their readers and viewer/listeners on that topic.

Part Two:  Corruption and the persons who engage in it are often seen as being pillars of the very communities they victimize.   Too often, the victims are unable and unwilling to look past the familiar faces, many of them prominent in the communities, and critically examine their behaviors.  It’s the behavior, not the reputation of the person, that reveals the corruption or incompetence.

Here is an end-of-year column by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez.  It’s headline says it all:  2013:  A great year for scandal, incompetence, and corruption.  It suggests the variety of costly behaviors that people need to watch out for.

December 11, 2013

Former Kootenai County Finance Director Convicted in CA: Corruption

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 3:39 pm

SpacciaBookingPhotoA former Kootenai County Finance Director has been convicted by a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury on 11 of 13 counts relating to public corruption .

On Monday, December 9, 2013, Angela Spaccia was convicted on charges including misappropriation of public funds, conflict of interest, and secretion [sic] of the official record. Spaccia committed the offenses while employed from July 2003 until October 2010 as the assistant to the Chief Administrative Officer of Bell, California.

During Spaccia’s trial it was learned that she had served from 1994 until June 1998 as the Associate Director of the YWCA in Coeur d’Alene.  From June 15, 1998, until June 16, 2000, she served as the Finance Director for Kootenai County,  Idaho, in the Auditor’s Office under then Kootenai County Clerk Dan English.  At the time she was known by her married name, Angela Sheffield.  In 2000 she divorced her husband, Thomas Allen Sheffield, and returned to southern California with her son. (more…)

November 16, 2013

The Bell Corruption Scandal: Altered Official Documents

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:03 am

pile-of-cashThe corruption scandal involving the city of Bell, California, Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rizzo and his chief deputy, Angela Spaccia, gets dirtier and dirtier.

During Friday’s testimony, Deputy District Attorney Sean Hassett forced Spaccia to acknowledge that a 2006 resolution approved by the City Council had been illegally altered (switched) so the wording they signed was different from the wording of the resolution in their council packets.   What was in the Council packet and what the Council believed they were signing was, in fact, different from what they actually did sign.   Someone on the City staff, someone obviously trusted by the Council members, had altered the documents, public records.

The result was that the Council gave Rizzo more power and authority than had been intended.  It allowed Rizzo to approve lucrative contracts with City employees without Council approval.

Fortunately, nothing like that could ever happen in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Our Council diligently reads every document in its packet.  They compare word-for-word what their packet contains with what our City Clerk puts in front of them.  Our City Finance Director and City Attorney do the same.   Everyone’s paying attention, so we’re safe, right?  Two words:  Sheryl Carroll.

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