We saw again last night why ideologues are bad replacements for competent elected local officials who put community needs and values ahead of personal agendas. Councilman Steve Adams, until now an interesting distraction who refuses to support any budgetary item tied to federal funding, placed the financial stability of Coeur d'Alene in danger by flipflopping on judicial confirmation of the federally mandated expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. He supported it. Then, he didn't. I was amazed, as I watched Coeur d'Alene TV Channel 19, how Adams waved off warnings from City Attorney Mike Gridley and wastewater treatment plant manage Sid Fredrickson re: his threat of appeal for pending judicial confirmation of the project. They said he could be subjecting the city of Coeur d'Alene to fines of $37,500 per day and $1M per month with his demand for a public vote on the scheduled expansion. More below.
Adams' reckless refusal to listen to wise counsel also could trigger a federal imposition of a sewer-hookup moratorium that would stifle the emerging local business industry. Unfortunately, Adams (and those who have his ear off screen) have the ability to delay this project a year through a judicial appeals process. So he has possibly forced the City Council to cave to his demand for a public vote for the most basic of city services: sewer. At a minimum, the demand by Adams will cost the city $75,000 to stage an election this spring. The city will have to act warp speed to put the measure on the ballot and then persuade voters to support the $33 million expansion. A tall order. And what happens if the voters don't back the expansion demanded by the federal EPA? Fines. Sewer moratorium. Possible increase in monthly sewer bills in five years to $70. All of which Adams waves off as the "sky-is-falling" Chicken Little stuff. It isn't. The city of Coeur d'Alene was shut down by a building moratorium in the late 1970s, as a result of an inadequate sewer plant. Now, residents of this progressive community may be facing the same problem as the result of one individual who claims special revelation into the Idaho Constitution -- and refuses to do what's best for the stability of his community/DFO.