Posts tagged: kootenai county
No one can blame the Kootenai County commissioners for adopting a social media policy for county employees. The Spokesman-Review has one, too. But some of the 16 guidelines approved by Dan, Jai and Todd seem, well, paranoid and/or Big Brotherish. Consider Guideline No. 2 (which Huckleberries calls the anti-whistle-blower rule): “Employees are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites to the degree that their speech does not impair working relationships of the County and its elected officials for which loyalty and confidentiality are important, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among co-workers, or negatively affect the public perception of the County”/DFO, SR Sunday Huckleberries. More here.
Other SR weekend columns:
Question: Do the county's new social media rules protect employees' right to free speech?
Kootenai County commissioners have approved a new policy re: county employees and the social media. A copy of the policy obtained by Huckleberries Online says: “Kootenai County respects the right of employees to write blogs and use social networking sites and does not want to discourage employees from self-publishing and self expression.” It then goes on to list 16 guidelines, including a couple that I believe will have a chilling effect for social media interaction, including this one:
No. 2: “Employees are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media sites to the degree that their speech does not impair working reltionships of the County and its Elected Officials, for which loyalty and confidentiality or important, impede the performance of duties, impair discipline and harmony among coworkers, or negatively affect the public perception of the County.”
Who determines what “negatively affect the public perception of the County”?
Question: Are these rules a common sense protection for the county re: social media use by employees — or an attempt to intimidate employees re: use of social media?
Public Defender John Adams says he has been handed his walking papers from Kootenai County's Board of Commissioners. There ought to be a law against that, many in our community argue. Kootenai County Commissioners Dan Green, Todd Tondee and Jai Nelson should take a deep breath and find a way to work out whatever difficulties exist and retain Adams, rather than push him out by Sept. 30. Why? Because Adams is among the very best at what he does, with an outstanding track record spanning almost two decades working for the county. His dedication is partly reflected by the fact that he could make far more money in private practice. This isn't exactly a glamour job, either. When it's your solemn duty to ensure the rights of people like Joseph Duncan are protected, folks aren't patting you on the back as you walk down the street or lining up at the bar to buy you a beer/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.
Question: Do you think Jai Nelson and the other Kootenai County commissioners are adult enough to admit they made a mistake?
The decision by veteran Treasurer Tom Malzahn to withdraw plans to retire should serve as a warning to all Kootenai County Republicans that something's very wrong at the Central Committee level. Malzahn rescinded his retirement because he isn't confident that the Central Committee would pick at least one qualified person among the three names it would send to the County Commissioners to fill his vacancy. Everyone knows that Treasurer Malzahn considers his able assistant, Laurie Thomas, to be the most qualified person in the county to fill his shoes. But rumors abound that a subgroup within the Central Committee was lobbying actively behind the scenes to make sure that Laurie's name wasn't among the three sent to the commission. The in crowd wanted a party hack instead. The GOP Central Committee no longer can be trusted to act in the best interests of the public. Rather, it has become a vehicle for Constitutionalists, Libertarians, Ron Paulers, and various other elements of the local Tea Party to push their extreme agendas under the name of the Republican Party. For the past year, we have watched as “Republican” activists have created turmoil on the Coeur d'Alene City Council and Coeur d'Alene School Board. Councilman Steve Adams, a former North Idaho Patriot for Ron Paul, won office as a “Republican” and now has Coeur d'Alene facing an economic disaster as a result of his flipflop stand against wastewater treatment expansion. The Coeur d'Alene School Board, including three appointees, all of whom have Republican Party backing, has bounced from one self-inflicted controversy to another in the last 9 months. Malzahn's decision puts a fine point on the radicalism of the local GOP CC. Anyone who stands up to this new version of the Grand Old Party will be denounced as a “liberal” and trashed. But that's a small price to pay to take our Kootenai County communities back from the right-wing RINOs/DFO.
Eastern Idaho's Madison County has the healthiest residents in the Gem State, according to the fourth annual County Health Rankings, released this morning by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Bear Lake County, in southeast Idaho, was deemed the least healthy county. According to the new rankings, the five healthiest counties in Idaho are Madison, Valley, Franklin, Latah and Blaine. The five counties in the poorest health are Bear Lake, Shoshone, Boise, Benewah and Lemhi/George Prentice, Boise Weekly. More here.
Question: Are you leading a healthier life style today than you did five years ago?
Jen Franklin doesn't want Kootenai County to get too big, but small population increases are fine. “If we grow a little, that's always a good sign,” the Post Falls woman said outside the Post Falls Library on Thursday. “I think small, gradual growth is healthy … as long as work is available.” Kootenai's population rose 0.89 percent from 141,103 in June 2011 to 142,357 June 2012, according to data released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. While that's a far cry from the 3 to 5 percent gains that were common before the recession, some metropolitan areas, including Boise and Gem counties, both part of the Boise area, had population declines/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Do you think Kootenai County has too many people living in it?
Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger's first day on the job began with swearing in his staff Monday. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)
Ben Wolfinger took the oath as Kootenai County’s new top cop Monday, but he shared the spotlight with Boston Wolfinger, his 5-week-old grandson whose tiny outfit declared, “New sheriff in town.” The first grandchild for Wolfinger and his wife, Mary, marked a peak in a rollercoaster year for the 30-year veteran of the sheriff’s department. Emerging from the spring primary as the Republican nominee, Wolfinger was swept into office last November with 72 percent of the vote. But four days before the victory, his mother, Alice, died from congestive heart failure. “She was one of my best campaigners,” Wolfinger said.
Question: Who was the better sheriff over the last 25 years — Rocky Watson or Pierce Clegg?
County Clerk Cliff Hayes announced that Friday, November 2, is the last day for in-person absentee voting at the Elections office, 1808 N. Third Street in Coeur d’Alene. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “We’ve received over 15,000 ballots so far, by mail and in-person. That’s about 20% of the County’s registered voters”, Hayes said. 604 people voted in-person on the busiest day during this election cycle/Kootenai County Clerk's Office news release. More here.
Question: Are you among the 15,000 who have already voted?
KHQ's Ken McGrath and DFO discuss Kootenai County ballot measure to streamline county government, on News Break this afternoon. DFO makes prediction re: measures chances of passage:
DFO interviewed Commissioner Dan Green online this afternoon re: the ballot measure to change Kootenai County government, which he supports. The measure proposes to turn four elected offices — clerk, assessor, treasurer & coroner — into appointed ones. And to add a county administrator:
Green: The Central Committee has their own opinions. Only 33 members of the 68 precincts were there that night (that passed a resolution against the proposed government change). This is not a partisan issue. This is an administrative issue to be more efficient. There are a great many Republicans who support the measure. They just might not be on the Central Committee.
County Clerk Cliff Hayes announced that both in-person absentee voting and absentee ballots cast by mail have been steady in the last couple of weeks. “We’ve received 8,900 ballots so far; that’s about 12% of the County’s registered voters”, Hayes said. That total includes ballots by mail as well as those cast in-person at the Elections office. One day this week 297 people voted in-person at the County Elections office, which is the highest daily total so far during this election cycle. “Saturday (Oct. 27) we’ll be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Hayes continued. That is the last of the Saturday in-person absentee voting options. About 60 voters utilized this option for casting their ballots last Saturday, October 20. Complete news release here.
Question: Have you voted yet?
Concealed weapons carriers in Kootenai County will fork over more cash to renew their permits, due to a newly approved fee hike. But that doesn't seem to rankle gun owners. “I figure with the cost of guns and ammo, just a couple dollars more isn't going to crimp the business,” said Nathaniel Pulliam, safety officer at the Coeur d'Alene Rifle and Pistol Club. The Kootenai County commissioners on Tuesday voted 2-0 to raise the fee for a permit renewal criminal background check from $5 to $20. The commissioners made the fee retroactively effective for Oct. 2, to coordinate with the date of the state's same fee change/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Shawn Gust Press photo: Bob Reish, of Post Falls, fires a pistol at Center Target Sports on Wednesday)
Question: Do you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon?
The Kootenai County commissioners are holding an open house on Tuesday to roll out the proposed $36 million county facilities master plan to the public, the first step to possibly putting a bond measure on the ballot. “If the commissioners move this forward and put this to a vote, this is an opportunity to gain more information so (voters) could be better in-formed,” said Commiss-ioner Dan Green. The public meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. at the county administration building at 451 Government Way, will include a presentation of the proposed plan by Steve McNutt, with NAC Architecture. … The plan chiefly covers a dramatic makeover to the county campus at the corner of Northwest Boulevard and Government Way in Coeur d'Alene. Recommendations in the plan include building a 6 to 8 -level parking garage on Northwest Boulevard, an expansion of the administration building, and a new justice building/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Is a parking garage needed at the Kootenai County Courthouse?
Former Kootenai County coroner Dr. Bob West wants nothing to do with the proposed measure on November ballot supporting government change:
During my 26 years as the elected coroner of Kootenai County, I had multiple discussions with the BOCC in regard to budget issues, policy development and numerous other issues. While the coroner budget comprises 0.4 percent of the county budget, we were accorded respect and reasonable consideration on every occasion without fear of being dismissed for a dissenting opinion/Dr. Bob West, former Kootenai County coroner, Coeur d'Alene Press guest opinion. More here.
Question: Get the picture?
Kootenai County Commissioner Dan Green unveiled on Wednesday a new organization he has formed to promote his vision for government restructuring, which he promises will save the county more than a million dollars. Noting that the effort is separate from the other commissioners, Green trotted out Streamline Kootenai County before a crowd of other officials and business leaders at The Coeur d'Alene Resort. The group's main task is education and outreach about the commissioners' ballot measure for an alternate form of government, Green said, which he pegged as the first step in improving county government. “I'm frustrated with the dysfunctional structure in place to make ordinary decisions and spend tax dollars,” Green said. … He identified the co-chairs of Streamline Kootenai County as Joe Morris, former Kootenai Medical Center CEO, and Jon Hippler, former Mountain West Bank CEO/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
DFO: I appreciate streamline government. But I can't support a proposal that makes the entire county government structure vulnerable to a takeover by the Far Right, which has a shot at two of the three Kootenai County seats every two years.
Question: Any thoughts about Streamline Kootenai County?
Tom Taggart, the former county clerk who did a swell job as the first and only county administrator, comments that he's going to oppose the Kootenai County government change on the November ballot:
Just so you know, I will be voting no on this also. I have a number of reasons. I think the main issue I have with this is it is clearly going to fail and that will mean it will be a long time before any group of commissioners will try again. There are some smaller changes that could help without making these huge changes. The commissioners did not invite any input and instead relied on past studies. There is no question county government is cumbersome and inefficient and I doubt anyone would come up with the current structure if starting from scratch. However, we are not starting with a blank slate, but rather attempting to change a well established institution. It is also important to keep in mind that a little inefficiency in government in not all that bad.
Question: Anyone out there who is going to support this?
Dori Peck says there are two words to describe the cat and kitten epidemic in Kootenai County. One is crazy. The other is overwhelming. And it's getting worse, said the executive director of the Kootenai Humane Society. Whether ferals or strays, they're everywhere. “We have to do something,” Peck said Monday. “We have literally litters of kittens coming in.” She said the KHS shelter at the end of Ramsey Road is at capacity, with around 100 cats and kittens. There's a 45-day waiting list to drop off a feline. Around 15 calls a day come in from folks desperate to get rid of one, two or an entire litter. Told there's no room, some are just leaving cats outside the shelter gates. Or, they're dumping them in neighborhoods, in the wild, in parks. Wherever. It is the worst Peck has seen this situation/Bill Buley, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Jerome A. Pollos' Press photo: Kittens held in the quarantine area of the Kootenai Human Society)
Question: Any ideas re: what can be done about this situation?
As a new substitute school teacher in Post Falls this year, Aspen Elbin figured it would be at least October before she would be called to a classroom. But she went to work much sooner. Just a few weeks into the school year, Elbin has already put in a few days at Frederick Post Kindercenter and has some days lined up at Mullan Trail Elementary. “I'm happy to have the opportunities so early,” said Elbin, a substitute in the Kamiah and Kooskia districts before her family moved here. School districts still rely heavily on subs, but their budgets for teacher sub costs have declined in recent years like most other budgeted items. … Tom Taggart, Lakeland's finance director, attributed that district's budget decrease to a lower number of regular teachers in recent years resulting from attendance declines/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Jerome A. Pollos' Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Patsy Hargrave, a substitute teacher, helps students during a first-grade reading class Thursday at Sorensen Magnet School in Coeur d'Alene)
Question: Do you think that the job of a substitute teacher is a tough one?
Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes announced that absentee voting by mail for the Nov. 6 general election is under way. “We began mailing out absentee ballots last Friday,” said Hayes, “and we’ll mail out ballots daily for the next several weeks”. The county is paying return postage on absentee ballots received. Tuesday, Oct. 9 is the start of in-person absentee voting. The Elections office, 1808 N. Third St. in Coeur d’Alene, is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. “We’re also going to be open on two Saturdays, Oct. 20 & Oct. 27, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” said Hayes. “We want to make absentee voting as convenient as possible for the voters”/Kootenai County clerk's news release.
You can see the sample ballots for the three county legislative districts below:
Question: Do you plan to vote absentee this year?
For all the perceived differences between the two, Spokane County and Kootenai County are close relatives, statistically speaking. Many similarities between the cross-border neighbors emerge in the 2011 American Community Survey, released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Spokane County is a bit younger and better paid, is less settled down and more diverse racially. Kootenai County has a little less higher education, but the difference isn’t pronounced. Still, a few things stand out when comparing the two counties:
Question: What do you think is the biggest difference between Spokane and Kootenai counties — other than they exist ae located in different states?