August 6, 2018

Almost Three Years Late …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 7:34 am


Remember Windstorm 2015 that hit our area on November 17, 2015?

Apparently the Coeur d’Alene Press finally got around to giving it some thought for its August 5, 2018, relevant but long overdue editorial entitled Fires Ignite One Thumbs-Up — And One Down.

In my OpenCdA post entitled Our Grade?  Needs Improvement on December 7, 2015, I tried to be restrained in my criticism of the Kootenai County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and its Director, Sandy von Behren, Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger, and the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners.  ‘Unprepared’ and ‘indecisive’ would have been the kindest terms I could have used for their collective professional failures in performing their official duties regarding informing the public.

Sunday’s skewspaper editorial finally acknowledged one of Windstorm 2015’s lessons that should have been learned long ago:  Kootenai County does not have a coordinated method of disseminating timely, accurate, and complete information to all the residents of Kootenai County.

The County thinks it does and tells the public it does on its website.  It doesn’t.

But what about Alert!Kootenai, the Kootenai County Emergency Alert Program?   How many of you who signed up for this received any message about the fires near Dirtstrip International Airport that were the basis for Sunday’s Press editorial?  I didn’t.

Sunday’s Press editorial included this statement:

This complaint isn’t just from a newspaper charged with keeping citizens informed; media throughout the region are poised to get important information to the public promptly and accurately.

The last portion of that statement, “…; media throughout the region are poised to get important information to the public promptly and accurately,” needs further discussion.

Which “media throughout the region are poised to get important information to the public promptly and accurately?”  That’s imprecise puffery unless the public knows exactly  which media we need to seek out to get important information promptly and accurately.    From whose perspective, the media’s or the public’s, is the information “important” enough to qualify for media dissemination? Does “media” in the editorial refer to one or more radio or television stations?  If so, exactly which ones?  And at what intervals will the information be aired?

Even the Press wisely discounts the wisdom of putting any reliance on any of the “social media.”  I pointed out the foolishness and even the danger of relying on social media in my October 22, 2015, OpenCdA post entitled Turn Your Radio On?.   Access to social media generally requires  reliable internet access.  Not everyone in Kootenai County has that, wants it, or can afford it.  Not everyone in Kootenai County has, wants, or can afford a smart phone or other social media-capable device.   And as we learned from the national election campaign of 2016 and as many of us knew long before that, social media are subject to exploitation and manipulation by external forces as well as censorship by unscrupulous or amazingly ignorant and naive executives in the social media companies themselves.

Most people, regardless of age or technological skill, still have portable and mobile AM/FM radios and know how to use them.  Terrestrial radio would be very effective disseminating important information if (1) the participating station’s signal is solidly available day or night  everywhere in Kootenai County; and (2) the citizens know exactly what station(s) will be carrying all the timely, accurate, and complete information; and (3) the County timely and consistently provides the station(s) with the information to be dissesminated.

All news is information, but not all information is newsworthy.    The County OEM is responsible for providing people in the County with information, not news.  Information sent by the County to a radio or television station is going to be filtered by the station.  A very sad reality is that most terrestrial radio stations in our area that make any effort at local news coverage rely on a redheaded stepchild partnership with one of the Spokane television stations’ news departments with all the attendant limitations those partnerships impose.

To my knowledge, Kootenai County has no  terrestrial AM or FM radio stations with 24-hour county-wide coverage and dedicated local news production staff and studios in Kootenai County.   If there are any, then that’s the station(s) to which the County OEM ought to be devoting all its time and effort.

In a world where cost is no object, the County could get the kind of coverage and editorial control it needs by funding and operating its own terrestrial radio station.  We don’t live in that world, so the County OEM’s second best option is to find an existing terrestrial radio licensee and operator whose signal has the coverage area and who is willing to accommodate the County’s requirement for timely, accurate, and complete dissemination of urgent information.

The third alternative is to stream live audio over the internet.  This is often referred to as “internet radio.”  It is relatively inexpensive to start and operate, especially when compared to the costs associated with starting and operating a terrestrial radio station.   The content and operation is solely the responsibility of the owner-operator.

More and more terrestrial AM and FM radio stations are also live streaming their programming.  Streaming live audio does not have the same propagation issues as terrestrial signals operating from 535 to 1605 kHz and 88 to 108 mHz, commonly referred to as the AM and FM bands in the United States.  Streaming their live audio programming effectively extends the reach of the radio station beyond the limits of its electromagnetic terrestrial signal.

Receiving internet radio requires reliable wired or wireless internet access.   A quick check of Verizon Wireless coverage area shows that even Verizon does not provide wireless cellular coverage everywhere in Kootenai County.    It also requires  a device (pc, mac, tablet, notebook, laptop, smart phone, etc.) that gives you access to the internet and an audio output.  Think of an internet radio station as a specially configured website .

Here are some things for the County to consider and discuss in deciding how to reach people with its urgent information delivery.

  • The County would have total and complete control over content from an internet radio station.  What information the County broadcasts and when it broadcasts it would be solely under its control, not the control of a terrestrial radio or television station.    Thus, important information that might never be aired by a cooperating commercial terrestrial station could be broadcast by the internet radio station.
  • Since the County internet radio station is a public service rather than a commercial enterprise, “dead air” with a brief station identifier every few minutes is all that is required between informational broadcasts.
  • Initial warning functions such as Alert!Kootenai could and probably should be used to direct people to the internet radio site for more complete and ongoing information about an occurrence.
  • The broadcasts from the internet radio station can and probably should be archived for future reference or for delayed access as a podcast.  That is a significant advantage over relying exclusively on terrestrial radio and television.
  • The number of operating points from which a broadcast can originate is nearly limitless.  With proper system design, supervision, and control an authorized announcer could call directly into the streaming server and use a cell phone to initiate a broadcast.
  • The audio bandwidth and intelligibility of internet streaming audio is superior to terrestrial AM radio audio.
  • At multioccupancy institutions such as hotels, hospitals, schools, apartments, etc., the institution can access the internet radio station just like any other user.  However, the institution can then use the in-house audio distribution system to distribute the programming to each resident to be heard or ignored.   That reduces the load on the streaming server.
  • I’m not completely convinced the County fully understands the importance of disseminating timely, accurate, complete information to residents and visitors in Kootenai County.  Without that understanding and an unwavering commitment to it by everyone involved, this would become merely another eyewash program.
  • If the streaming server fails and there is no automatic switching to a backup, the internet radio station is inaccessible until the server is restored.
  • This will be labor intensive, and most if not all of that labor will have to come from paid County employees, not volunteers, who can and will be held accountable for their performance.   Though laborers need not have professional on-air or on-mic training and experience, they must be able to collect, collate, write, and read the information on the air.  Their reading must be intelligible.  They must be trained.
  • The Kootenai County internet radio station must not be perceived or operated as an interactive social medium.  It is a one-way street that has one and only one purpose:  Disseminating timely, accurate, complete information to the public.  If the public wants to comment or ask for clarification, the public needs to contact the appropriate County department or official.
  • A Kootenai County internet radio station must never be perceived as a substitute for 9-1-1 or the business lines of agencies.  That has to be made clear from the outset and periodically when information is being aired.  The County’s internet radio station should receive its information directly from the County EOC, an agency’s verified public information officer or command officer, or a designated person at the 9-1-1 County dispatch center.
  • If the County considers an internet radio station, the primary operating location should be at the County’s Public Safety Answering Point, the Kootenai County 9-1-1 Center.  To avoid acoustic interference, the internet radio room must be acoustically isolated from the PSAP call takers and dispatchers.  However, it must be set up to receive information via computer or live delivery from the PSAP.  The secondary operating location should be at the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and linked to the primary operating location with fiber optic cable.
  • It is not intended that the internet radio station would operate only during times the EOC is operational.  Unusual occurrences not resulting in EOC activation can and should nevertheless be reported and archived by the internet radio station.

It was encouraging that our local skewspaper has finally publicly recognized that some Kootenai County elected officials have failed to acknowledge that getting timely, accurate, complete information to the public is not only a legitimate but essential function of the government.  Now we’ll see if the County’s failure is perpetuated or corrected.


  1. Nothing surprises me anymore, here in Idaho -aka- IDUMBHO, I would be embarrassed to be an elected official of this state, county, or city … because they are pathetic and incompetent goons who think they have the power to push people around and they do. Today, my husband was DENIED his driver’s license which is needed for so many things. The goons REFUSED to take a CERTIFIED BIRTH CERTIFICATE for the Star card. She was obviously as blind as a bat, because I saw it. Truth be told, they just did not want to do their jobs because they were closing again because our system is so bad … the only thing this pathetic area will be able to do, is fine him if he is caught without a valid driver’s license at no fault of his own. It was clear they did not want to work at all, and it is very clear that not one elected official in this area gives a damn about the regular people because they are all so important and cannot even clean out their voicemail boxes or take calls from regular people because they just “too busy.” But, I bet they have NO problem getting their driver’s license’s. Unbelievable … refused a certified birth certificate. If there is an emergency is this area … just accept the fact, you are on your own. It is a grab and smash state … they want your money and that is all, no services ever rendered.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 8, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

  2. Stebbijo,

    The certified birth certificate should have been sufficient to prove his identity. What did he produce to prove his Social Security number and his Idaho residency?

    Here’s a link to the State’s list of Acceptable Documents for obtaining Idaho’s Star card.

    Comment by Bill — August 8, 2018 @ 4:47 pm

  3. Deed to our mobile home and car registration/voter registration card/DD-214 – what he did not have was a utility bill or a deed to real property which does not really prove residency … and he also had his 1 day old expired Idaho Driver’s License. He was going to get his DL but they said it would cost him extra when he came back for the Star Card, BUT that was immediately declined because they would not take his certified birth certificate (with supporting documentation for the issuing army base hospital)and he had his social security card. Then, the lady bitched before he could produce his SS card and said it could not be laminated. They would have needed to cuff me as I would be yelling at the incompetent goons and I would be demanding her personal information so I could sue her fat ass and the Idaho Department of Transportaion. Now the entire system is down for who knows how long. Unacceptable.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 8, 2018 @ 5:44 pm

  4. The way I look at it is if our mobile home deed/proof of ownership is not acceptable then we sure as hell should not be paying taxes on it.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 8, 2018 @ 5:53 pm

  5. Also, since the Star card is for federal recognition that the state is trying to, but failing miserably to comply, we were in compliance with Federal PUBLIC LAW 109–13—MAY 11, 2005. Idaho appears to just make it up as they go and likes to treat their own law abiding citizens as terrorists because they are to damn stupid to run their own departments.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 8, 2018 @ 6:06 pm

  6. …or I might say, our state is NOT complying with the application of a STAR card and something is clearly and obviously wrong with the management of the Idaho Department of Transportation within this DL division and our county sheriff’s office that runs this local circus. I am done, maybe. 😉

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 8, 2018 @ 6:18 pm

  7. Stebbijo,

    Probably the best advice others can take from your justified frustration is to assemble the required documents well ahead of needing to go in for renewal.

    Or, maybe just tell DMV you’re an illegal alien who just hiked in from Canada. You’ll walk out with your driver’s license, no messy paperwork needed.

    Comment by Bill — August 8, 2018 @ 7:51 pm

  8. My point is he had it all and they refused a certified birth certificate that they claimed to not see and was also in compliance with the last issued Idaho DL that evidently holds no weight. Calling an attorney is the next appropriate step.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 9, 2018 @ 6:30 am

  9. Stebbijo,

    I’m missing something.

    Since he has the specified documentation, what reason is DMV giving for refusing to issue a license now?

    Or is it that DMV’s failure to issue the license when he first applied and provided all the necessary documentation resulted in his having to pay an increased costs?

    Since the REAL ID Act is a federal law, it sounds to me as if the state DMV may be either ignorantly or arbitrarily misapplying the law’s administration. Have you written to Congressman Labrador and succinctly explained what DMV did wrong, how it harmed or damaged you, and how DMV has been unwilling to correct its apparent error? I’ve written to Labrdor’s office in Meridian twice and received timely and helpful responses both times. The objective is to get the Idaho REAL ID card or license issued.

    Comment by Bill — August 9, 2018 @ 8:45 am

  10. It was the “certified birth certificate” that she refused, denying him from the beginning for the STAR card. Believe me, any reasonable person would have accepted this. Not accepting ownership of a dwelling as in our mobile home is residency and in compliance with federal law. He has called all the offices. You are right, the DMV is both — denying DL’s for no valid reason. Appears to me that they are deliberately denying, force you to come back to pay an extra fee. Now, I have asked around, we are not alone. It is going on with other very nice people, who think they just have an idiot at the helm. I do not think so … this ineptness with the DL division has been going on for months … and they do not care. People need their DL’s but this state cannot even get their Kiosk to work, you need an appointment or android, and then they take your photo ect BEFORE taking any documentation and then they say, Adios. It is crazy and we are very unhappy. They are literally forcing folks to drive on expired DL’s at no fault of their own. All, I can think of is Idaho has issued so many invalid illegal DL’s … they are now denying legal citizens their rightful DL’s because their systems do not work and they are trying to lose/cover up their own mess by appearing to enforce compliance. Stinks.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 9, 2018 @ 1:10 pm

  11. Stebbijo,

    I’ve just sent an email to you.

    Comment by Bill — August 9, 2018 @ 3:26 pm

  12. Excellent. Thank-you.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 9, 2018 @ 3:56 pm

  13. I am completely aghast that this is the service they provide. The message has already been changed. Yesterday, they were claiming a 2 day outage, now it is specifically geared for this area and what to do while you wait. There is something very very wrong.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 9, 2018 @ 8:50 pm

  14. Stebbijo,

    KQNT from Spokane has been saying most of this week that Idaho DMV offices statewide would be closed August 9 and 10 for a computer system upgrade. ISP was also experiencing some very slow responses earlier in the week.

    Comment by Bill — August 10, 2018 @ 5:44 am

  15. LOL Yep, a little damage control. Obviously, no upgrade. This has been going on for months.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 10, 2018 @ 6:17 am

  16. But, he has been forced to go back. We will let you know if there is any improvement.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 10, 2018 @ 9:02 am

  17. On a sidenote, I want to take a step back from this, because it is more than a local issue, it is a federal issue but the governments appear to be closely aligned. The denial of a STAR card is huge and folks may not figure it before it is too late and you are denied into a federal building, you cannot fly, and realize even your Passport is worthless. Do not wait until 2020, the lines will be much longer and much more maddening. Gather your papers, all of them and if they do not take your certified birth certificate, make them eat it. Just awful.

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 10, 2018 @ 5:57 pm

  18. Error:: These documents will allow entry into a federal building, more expensive tho. Get the passport card, if you do not plan to fly internationally but you cannot board a plane domestic unless you have the STAR card??? Help.

    U.S. passport
    U.S. passport card
    DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
    U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
    Permanent resident card
    Border crossing card
    DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license
    Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
    Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
    HSPD-12 PIV card
    Foreign government-issued passport
    Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
    Transportation worker identification credential
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
    U.S. Merchant Mariner Credentia

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 10, 2018 @ 6:15 pm

  19. Okay, I am done. I promise. This is my check list of sorts. Tell me where I am wrong.

    Passport Book

    Allows commercial flying international and domestic
    Allows access to federal buildings
    Does not allow travel by car to Mexico, Canada

    Passport Card
    Allows federal access to buildings
    Allows travel by car to Mexico and Canada
    Does not allow for international and domestic commercial flights

    Star Card

    Allows access to federal buildings
    Allows commercial airline travel domestically
    Does not allow international road travel to neighboring countries

    State Drivers License

    Allows travel by road/car in the US
    Does not allow access to federal buildings

    Enhanced Driver’s License (Idaho does not have one)

    Allows travel by car/road to neighboring countries
    Does not allow access to federal buildings

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 10, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

  20. I wanted to update this thread since there is a local article on it. Also, the Passport Book will allow car travel, but but you need a valid driver’s license, if you can get one. 🙂

    Comment by Stebbijo — August 29, 2018 @ 5:00 pm

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