Hmmm. In my nearly 13 years here, I must have seen 13 different tries to save downtown Coeur d’Alene. First, downtown promoters wanted to transform Sherman Avenue into a mall with a roof. Then, Duane Hagadone tried valiantly to preserve downtown by opening The Coeur d’Alene Resort and later a mall and challenging merchants to spruce up their storefronts, sidewalks and streets. Eventually, Sherman and Lakeside avenues were revitalized. Afterward, a controversial business improvement district was formed to market downtown Coeur d’Alene. And parking congestion was studied. Last winter, Hagadone tried to save the business district again by proposing a library/botanical garden project that was rejected by the community because it involved McEuen Field. Now, 25 community groups have joined arms to study ways to revitalize downtown. I hope the effort succeeds this time. A vital downtown is important to this beautiful community. But I’m not holding my breath.
Foundry owner gets off cheap - too cheap
In the end, 1st District Judge Craig Kosonen decided John Hern wasn’t a bad guy after all - just a lost sheep with a fear of “Big Brother reaching in.” With Kootenai County commissioners pressing Hern’s case, Kosonen apparently saw the light and reduced the foundry owner’s fine for pollution from $495,000 to only $19,975. The new figure is pretty cheap for a guy who ignored planning, building and health rules for a decade before the Panhandle Health District finally got his attention by suing him. The district claimed, among other things, that Hern had stored hazardous materials improperly and had let raw bathroom sewage seep into the aquifer. Yet, Kosonen seemed ready to give Hern the key to the county Wednesday, citing Hern’s contributions to the economy and his work to save greyhound dogs as reasons to slash the fine. But then, Hern probably already had the key to the county after contributing to two commissioners’ campaigns last fall.
Healthy buyouts point to better career path
The departures of two college presidents in the area prove I’ve chosen the wrong career path. At Eastern Washington University, President Mark Drummond will be paid $110,000 per year for the next two years to shuffle off to Buffalo (read, prepare to re-enter the work force as an instructor). At North Idaho College, President Bob Bennett was paid $142,000 to leave without suing midway through a two-year contract. As for you and me? If our bosses wanted to fire us, all they’d say is: Don’t let the door hit you on the back side on the way out.
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