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“.


  1. Did Tony hire a secretary? If I remember correctly, it took him hours to locate past check registers (handwritten and no chart of accounts references) to comply with a records request. I did wonder about his filing system and abilities at that time. What other Executive Director of a multi-million dollar corporation does not have a secretary? It is all too curious.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — August 22, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

  2. Failure to keep adequate records, I believe, is a federal offense. But, folks, here in this neck of the woods just keep on keepin’ on. No records, no proof, no crime. Maybe the LCDC aka ignite cda is exempt from record keeping, too. Is the LCDC not audited by a CPA firm?

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 22, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

  3. I don’t know if they are audited or not, but they certainly should be. Any organization such as LCDC should have to open their books to the public regularly.Even though Mr. Berns says all is well, the public has a right to know the facts, not just take someone’s word.

    Comment by reddy — August 22, 2015 @ 5:50 pm

  4. Susie,

    Not curious at all. Finding a secretary with exactly the right qualifications would be really tricky for the LCDC/ignite cda. An applicant with the requisite understanding of the laws and practices of embezzlement, bid-rigging, bribery, and other nefarious financial arts is also likely to be an FBI Special Agent/Forensic Accountant or an IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent. And then where would the LCDC/ignite cda be?

    Comment by Bill — August 22, 2015 @ 7:48 pm

  5. The old LCDC site has been wiped out, goes immediately to the new ignite cda site. If I remember, the old LCDC site used to have some sort of financials on that site as well as profiles. Now, there is nothing but basic advertising. They changed their name for a reason, I guess.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 22, 2015 @ 8:42 pm

  6. reddy,

    The value of public records exists only when the records the public sees are the accurate and complete records of the organization. We live in Idaho where some officials, including some legislators, see nothing wrong with fudging the public record. When prosecutors won’t prosecute and courts won’t adjudicate those violations, the public records laws become nothing more than theatrical stage props.

    Comment by Bill — August 23, 2015 @ 6:27 am

  7. Bill, I certainly agree with you about “fudging the public record”. I was just responding to Stebbijo’s question as to whether LCDC is audited.
    Thanks for all your work keeping us in the “know”.

    Comment by reddy — August 27, 2015 @ 10:41 am

  8. reddy,

    To directly answer your question, the LCDC/ignore cda is audited.

    This January 14, 2014, report on Special Districts in Idaho might be of interest to you. It was done by the Idaho Legislative Services Office, Legislative Audits Division.

    Comment by Bill — August 27, 2015 @ 11:26 am

  9. The city of Coeur d’Alene is also audited. It is my understanding that the auditor is responsible only to assure that the numbers submitted match. (My explanation only.) These audits are not forensic audits.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — August 28, 2015 @ 8:01 am

  10. Susie,

    I believe the (supposedly) independent auditors are also supposed to follow certain established, accepted, and published accounting and auditing standards and practices. If the City’s and County’s independent auditors followed those practices and truthfully reported their associated observations and results, then it would appear the public incorrectly relies on the audits to reveal criminal conduct such as that of Sandra Martinson and Cheryl Carroll. But as we’ve observed in a slightly different context in another OpenCdA post, if officials really want to find misconduct or illegal conduct, they first have to be willing to look for it and then have the courage to pursue it once found.

    Comment by Bill — August 28, 2015 @ 8:46 am

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