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‘Nonsense’ aptly sums up recall push

Attorney Norm Gissel has two words to describe the attempted recall against Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem and three City Council members: “What nonsense.”

Many of you know Norm as one of the attorneys who sued the Aryan Nations into bankruptcy. On Thursday, Gissel submitted a letter to my Huckleberries Online blog ( /hbo), denouncing the attempt by RecallCDA to overthrow the mayor and half the council under the pretext of fighting a $14.2 million upgrade of McEuen Field in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

Among the Recallers are some who fought against Coeur d’Alene’s Kroc Center, Education Corridor, new library, Midtown improvements and more. Gissel writes: “Yelling from the bleachers like the left field fans at Wrigley Park, they opposed anything and everything that did not square with their peculiar visions of the past and of a nihilistic future. When faced with the prospect of improving a city park, it became one improvement too many. The ‘Bleacher Boys,’ now apoplectic, have decided on a recall. What nonsense.” Bingo.

By appointment only?

The Recallers have two of their own – Councilmen Dan Gookin and Steve Adams – ready to load the council with Luddites, if the recall succeeds. Under Idaho state law, Gov. Butch Otter would appoint a fourth council member to form a quorum. Gookin, Adams, Councilman Ron Edinger and the appointee would then choose the mayor. Who, with council approval, would appoint two people to fill the remaining vacancies. An unelected mayor and three unelected council members would preside over Coeur d’Alene business until city elections in November 2013.

Gookin and Adams claim neutrality in the recall effort. But Gookin let slip his true thoughts March 23 in a comment on a Coeur d’Alene blog run by Mary Souza, a Recaller and close associate. Gookin and Souza despise Coeur d’Alene’s successful urban renewal district, Lake City Development Corp. Wrote Gookin: “If you want the LCDC gone, then elect me a mayor or two other conservative councilmen and I’d be happy to kill it.” So much for neutrality.


The following groups are against the recall: Coeur d’Alene firefighters, Coeur d’Alene police, the city of Fernan and the Downtown Association. The Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce is discussing the issue. … Lake City residents will be able to see who signs the recall petitions. They’re public records. … Councilman Adams was for McEuen Field changes before he was against them. The City Council minutes of Feb. 2, 2010, are illuminating. Quoth: “Mr. Adams (then a parking commissioner) said that he would like to go on record that he supports enhancements to McEuen Field and improved parking capacity.” So what’s changed? … A recall election will cost the city of Coeur d’Alene $20,000, according to County Clerk Cliff Hayes.

Parting shot

Helen Newton, Sandpoint councilwoman and longtime former city clerk, remembers the 1980s recall attempt against then-Sandpoint Mayor Ron Chaney over a forced annexation: “It was very stressful on our mayor but he withstood the experience with grace while continuing to manage the affairs of the city. He actually earned more votes in the recall than he won when he was initially elected. It was a solid vote of confidence! The system works. Have faith in it. (Coeur d’Alene) will survive.” Knock on wood.