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County Won’t Say Who Got Paid Off

Kootenai County isn't naming names. Three payments totaling $102,000 were made to undisclosed county employees in a span of three months, according to information the Kootenai County Clerk's Office released Thursday. The bulk of a broad records request The Press submitted to the clerk's office two weeks ago was denied, including a request for names of employees who received the payments as settlements or severance. The records request is one of many The Press has submitted after uncovering large payments the county and its insurer have made to former county employees, including more than $300,000 to a deputy prosecutor. From the limited information The Press has been able to obtain through those requests, it appears former employees have received settlements and severance pay from multiple sources and accounts/Taryn Thompson, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Am I the only one who thinks something stinketh here?

Edit: LCDC Should Target Good Jobs

If you take the candidates at their word, there's no chance Coeur d'Alene's urban renewal agency is headed for the guillotine. That doesn't mean a close shave isn't in store. As they march down the campaign trail, including a televised forum last week, all but one of the candidates for Coeur d'Alene council and mayor say Lake City Development Corp. needs to sharpen its focus on economic development, with creation of good jobs at the head of the to-do list. While economic development has always been part of LCDC's mission, it hasn't taken center stage. In all likelihood, it will now/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: I don't quite understand what people mean when they say "good jobs." Can you attract good jobs to a tourism center like Coeur d'Alene. The timber jobs are gone. You're not going to create a bunch of manufacturing jobs in town. So what types of "good jobs" do you think Coeur d'Alene/Kootenai County can attract?

Widmyer Owns Press Word ‘Mayor’

Coeur d’Alene businessman Steve Widmyer isn’t mayor. Not yet. But for now, in the Coeur d’Alene Press, he owns the word. “Coeur d’Alene, meet your next mayor,” begins a Press editorial previewing its mayoral coverage. Like every mention of the “mayor” since the first week of September, the word is underlined and highlighted in blue. But click on the link, and it doesn’t lead to mayoral candidate profiles, the City Hall website, or previous Press articles. Instead it links directly to Widmyer’s campaign site. The context doesn’t matter. Stories mentioning Coeur d’Alene mayor Sandi Bloem, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, mayors in Rathdrum and Post Falls — all had the word “mayor” linked to Widmyer’s site/Daniel Walters, Inlander. More here.


Gissel: Souza Forfeits Leadership Role

In the Sept. 12 edition of the Coeur d’Alene Press the following passage was included: “Souza said as mayor, she would vote whichever way the public favored on highly charged topics when the opinion is stacked on one side, regardless of how she feels personally.” I have waited several days to make sure that she did not want to retract that statement or assert that she was misquoted. To my knowledge, she has not done so. As to that statement, it is clear to me that God gave each person the capacity to form and hold moral values. He also gave each person the free will to act on those moral values. Failing to act on moral values one holds has the same effect as having no moral values. For Ms. Souza to assert ahead of time that she would go with the flow if elected is not leadership but rather a preemptive forfeiture of leadership/Norm Gissel, letter to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo: Norm Gissel, foreground, and Tony Stewart)


Op-Ed: Proud To Be City Of Vision

In the next few months we will be continually bombarded with statements such as Michael Teague's definition of who is running for City Council and Mayor of Coeur d'Alene. He attempted to define anyone other than the far right Mary Souza group as the FAR LEFT. Where did he get the information backing up this statement? Who knows, perhaps out of a hat. Or perhaps in his mind and those of his contemporaries anyone who is for visionary leadership is far left. Visionary leadership looks at the possibilities; maintenance leadership wants to keep the status quo. It was visionary leadership that brought us the new Library, the Kroc Center, Riverstone, the Education Corridor and now McEuen Park. It brought us a new Police Station, a new Fire Station and an upgrade on the older fire stations/Deanna Goodlander, Coeur d'Alene Press op-ed. More here.

Question: Is Coeur d'Alene better off today than when Mayor Sandi Bloem first took office about 12 years ago?

Press: Celebrating Maj’s Life

One of North Idaho's bright lights was snuffed on Friday. Maj StormoGipson, a highly respected pediatrician and outdoors enthusiast, died in a Salmon River kayaking accident. Just 57, she was surrounded by family on a six-day rafting trip. The word "brilliant" has been diminished in this age of cheap superlatives, but Maj StormoGipson was brilliant. Equally, and what made her so rare in North Idaho, she was compassionate. Maj and her husband, Justin, graduated from Dartmouth Medical School. Before they specialized — Maj in pediatrics and Justin in ophthalmology — they were general practice doctors for two years. As distinguished Ivy Leaguers they couldn't be blamed for wanting to rush out and recoup as much of their educational investment as possible, in as short a time as possible. But that's not what motivates them/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.


Press: Deep Six Event Center

If Coeur d'Alene is ever going to have an event center, the time isn't now and Riverstone certainly isn't the place. This week, the city's urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., agreed to fund $10 million toward construction of a multi-purpose event center at Riverstone if North Idaho College, the primary beneficiary of the center, can raise an additional $5 million for the project. We're stunned that NIC would step so far outside its educational mission as a community college - and beyond the 17-acre corridor it purchased five years ago at a cost of $10 million - to prioritize this ill-conceived project and push it into hyperdrive. And we're disappointed that LCDC, perhaps in political panic mode, would even consider committing almost every future penny it could generate in the River District to such a risky venture/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that the Coeur d'Alene Press is so opposed to North Idaho College involvement in the proposed events center?

Press: Don’t Play Online Name Games

No harm, no foul. Of course, that's easy for us to say. We aren't Todd Tondee, the Kootenai County commissioner who was impersonated online last week and incurred the unwarranted wrath of some people who weren't terribly happy with the commissioner anyway.  But like Tondee already has suggested, he's never insisted on imprisonment for his name's assailant. He just wants wrongs to be righted, like:

  • Taking responsibility for the misdeed. Check; local resident Zac Eifler did that first thing Monday morning by calling The Press and confessing, humbly and apologetically. He followed up with a letter to the editor on today's Opinions page.
  • Clearing Tondee's name. Quite literally, check. After all this, anybody who still thinks Tondee wrote the inflammatory comment on the story about the county's controversial land code refuses to face reality - which unfortunately is an all-too-common affliction around here.

We prefer to look at this little mess as an instructional opportunity in the hazily defined world of online communication/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: What is your take-away from the unmasking of the Todd Tondee impersonator?

Letter: Out, Damn Obama Supporters

It’s finally time to remove our progressive liberals from our city council and mayorship! Why is it that these people are allowed to run for office without declaring a political party affiliation anyway? Are they afraid that putting Democrat in front of their name will cancel them out? I hope so. These people forced an unwanted “new park remodel” against the citizens’ wishes (or at least without a vote), and now are forcing decisions on those of us that have Christian religious beliefs. One cannot be a Christian if they support abortions and/or homosexuality, to name but a few. No matter the upcoming vote, remember these individuals at the next upcoming elections! Let’s take our city back from these progressive Obama supporters! Their time has come!/Jack Anderson, of Coeur d'Alene, letter to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press.

Other letters re: antidiscrimination ordinance vote:

Question: I didn't realize that 5 of the 6 council members who supported the antidiscrimination ordinance were Obama supporters, esp. Councilman Dan Gookin. Did you?

CdA Press Online Boots Trolls

We could point to the number of complaints readers of cdapress.com have registered against obnoxious comments and those who write them, but we won't. We could argue that page views of online comments, one source of funding that allows us to offer readership of cdapress.com free, has dropped because of the obnoxious comments and those who write them. But we won't do that, either. Instead, we will admit that Press administrators have banned about a dozen frequent commenters from posting their thoughts on cdapress.com because we can no longer stomach the vile nature of their postings, from gut-wrenchingly racist remarks to thinly veiled threats of public officials/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

DFO: H/T to Editor Mike Patrick for making this call.

Question: Do trolls add anything to the online comment mix?

Press: Sheriff Eyes Correct Target

Rumor has it that there is some distrust of President Obama. And with all the legislative sabre-rattling recently about prying assault weapons from the cold dead hands of American patriots, anxiety might be a tad higher than normal, even by North Idaho standards. Yet the persistent call issues forth for Kootenai County Sheriff Ben Wolfinger to stand before a cadre of concerned citizens and testify, with one hand on the Holy Bible and the other on his loaded sidearm, that he will actively defend county residents from any incursion of federal forces bent on depriving folks of their Second Amendment rights/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: I agree with this stand by the Coeur d'Alene Press. How about you?

Jeff’s Back In The Game

Jeff Selle, one of Huckleberries own, is returning to the journalism game, after years of wandering in the public relations wilderness. Jeff will rejoin the Coeur d'Alene Press. I first met Jeff years ago when he was pounding the Post Falls beat for the Press. Good reporter. Many of you know that he's also a superb BBQ cook. Jeff let his Facebook friends know about his transition in a post Tuesday: "I know this may shock a few of you, but before you hear it from someone else, I took a job reporting again at the Coeur d'Alene Press. However, I am going to continue catering and possibly some vending this year. I'm actually pretty excited to jump back into the game, so watch out North Idaho."

DFO: Please join me in a big salute to our back-to-the-future local journalist.

Letter: ‘Pachyderm’ Offensive

This note is regarding the article appearing on the front page of the Cd’A Press on 3/9, titled “Tight grip on state sovereignty Lincoln Day Dinner” by Alecia Warren. I respectfully request the Press raise its standards above injecting direct, blatant and derogatory comment in what is presumably presented as a reporting piece, not an opinion piece. Use of the word “pachyderms” is the issue with the article. (With guns on display for a raffle, local pachyderms gathered to rub elbows with elected conservatives, including precinct committeemen, as well as county, state and federal officials.) There could be worthy debate on that viewpoint, although prone to spiraling off the substance due to this inflammatory word, but using such language in a reporting piece on the front page strikes me as completely inappropriate/Jeff Odland of Hayden, Coeur d'Alene Press letter to the editor. (Duane Rasmussen photo: U.S. Sen. Jim Risch speaks to North Idaho Pachyderm Club in Coeur d'Alene last Friday)

Question: Wonder what the GOP members of the 2 or 3 Pachyderm Clubs in the county would say about this letter?

Edit: Well Done, School Levy Voters

The silent majority spoke up this week. We hope educators were listening. With overwhelming support, voters in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Kootenai school districts stepped up for their public schools. They willingly took on hefty property tax loads for the next two years by agreeing to maintenance and operations levy requests. Granted, acceptance of the measures doesn't necessarily reflect a significant tax increase because for the most part, the levies were continuations of previous amounts. But the bottom line is that by rejecting the measures, voters would have shed substantial obligations. For the owner of an average home in the Coeur d'Alene district, for instance, the two-year levy represents just under $500. Who wouldn't appreciate an extra $500 down the road? Conscientious citizens, that's who/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Absolutely agree with Coeur d'Alene Press editorial. Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls school patrons put their money where their mouth is — and voted overwhelmingly to support local schools for supplemental school levies. Legislators and school trustees should read that as solid support for education and quit trying to undercut it. Am I reading the election tea leaves correctly?

Huckleberries Hears …

… That talented feature writer Bill Buley of the Coeur d'Alene Press is leaving North Idaho winter chill for Hawaii's sunshine. Press Editor Mike Patrick has confirmed for Huckleberries that Bill will be editor in chief of The Garden Island, Kauai's daily newspaper. Join me in a H/T to Bill for performing local journalism well for a long time.

CdA Press: Yes On Proposition 3

Take it from an industry that has struggled to adjust and adapt: The world has changed, and those who resist that change risk becoming irrelevant. The newspaper business has finally stopped fighting the dramatic shift in the way information is communicated; its very survival depends upon creating excellent products and delivering them in ways consumers not only desire, but now demand. Public education faces many of the same challenges - and the same opportunities. Proposition 3 on Idaho ballots opens unlimited possibilities for public school students to learn with help from technology that they neither fear nor misunderstand, which cannot be said of some adults. Education reform adopted by the Idaho Legislature in 2011 includes a mandate for every high school to have wireless Internet access and every high school teacher and student a wireless computing device/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.


CdA Trustees: A Lack Of Democracy

The Coeur d’Alene school board is out of control. Populated almost entirely by appointees, apparently board members are confused about the concept of representative democracy… A prime example? They recently voted to disband PYP (a parent-funded program at one of our schools of choice) after refusing to do a community survey evaluating the program — despite a petition with more than 700 signatures begging them to get broad input first. At the most recent meeting, they voted to sell Person Field, pushing for a vote despite the fact that city representatives (scheduled to meet with them) had not yet arrived. As a citizen this scares me. It’s like something out of a bad movie/Barbara Hallett of Coeur d'Alene, letters to the editor, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you think the Coeur d'Alene School Board will remain controversial through next spring when the 3 appointed members will face the voters?

Press: Yes On Props 1, 2

Proposition 1 has been derided by opponents as a mean-spirited attempt to wrest control away from teachers and the teachers union and instead put too much authority in the state's hands. We agree that regretfully, some teachers have perceived it as mean-spirited, and we further agree that it absolutely takes authority away from the teachers union. But we support Prop 1 because we believe it has placed much more control in local hands - the hands of parents and school boards. And we also believe it has opened the window to a level of transparency that never existed here before, not even in this right-to-work state that has long rejected the mentality behind secretive collective bargaining sessions. We prize individual accomplishment and responsibility, and Prop 1 underscores those values/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.


Press: Yes To Luna Laws, Teachers

On Friday and Sunday, The Press will publish editorials explaining the editorial board's support for the three education propositions on the Nov. 6 ballot. But before we tell you why we believe these are important steps in elevating public education in Idaho, we want to state unequivocally our support for all the great teachers in our state and particularly in North Idaho. The public education structure has fallen far behind what's needed for Idaho's students to compete in tomorrow's work world. Education isn't alone in having fallen behind; in the blink of an eye the world has changed faster and more dramatically than ever before, and few have adjusted sufficiently. Yet public education will flourish again because it continues to attract some of the finest, most dedicated professionals. Within a more effective structure, those individuals will be public education's salvation/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Agree/disagree?

Letter: Bye, Bye Miss American PYP

The xenophobic Coeur d’Alene school directors have certainly been busy of late. Whacked the IB Program for good, they did — Ciao! Dismantled the PYP Program too — auf Wiedersehen! Next on their agenda ought to be the elimination of those pesky foreign languages — adieu! Too much cross cultural teaching/learning inherent in those buggers. Probably a sub-plot of that sinister United Nations. An appropriate song to be played at all director meetings and other school gatherings would be Pink Floyd’s “We don’t need no education … We don’t need no thought control … Teacher, Teacher, leave those kids alone.” Oops, probably won’t fly since Pink Floyd is a BRITISH group. Why can’t I get Judy Collins’ lyrics off my mind whenever the school board meets — “Send in the clowns, don’t bother they’re here.” Adios!/Dale Hensley, Hayden Lake. Coeur d'Alene Press letters to the editor.

DFO: Not only is this a well-written letter, but the headline written for it by a Coeur d'Alene Press editor is superb.


Press: Here Comes The Crud

We've had so much sunshine, some people have actually started to complain about the monotony of blue skies and warm temperatures. Well, all that monotony is expected to be flushed out of North Idaho this weekend, with showers and cooler temperatures heralding the October weather most of us have come to expect. And not far behind are the bugs. Flu bugs. October marks the opening of flu season in these parts, a literally sickening seasonal disorder that inflicts its nastiness on vulnerable denizens. Our message today is simple but important: Please, get a flu vaccination. For adults, they generally run about $30 at most local pharmacies - a small price to pay for a Get Out of Sickbed Free ticket from now through May/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

DFO: I couldn't agree more. I plan to get my flu shot ASAP. I don't catch crud years I get shots. I catch crud once or twice in the years that I don't. It's that simple.

Question: Do you plan to get a flu shot this year?

Press: Why NIC Election Important

Coeur d'Alene Press editorial today: Most people have a good feeling about what North Idaho College means to the region. Even its staunchest critics had to raise an eyebrow, though, over the recent report on NIC's economic impact. According to a study that was released at last week's meeting of the NIC board of trustees:

  • NIC has a positive impact of $165 million on the region's economy — that's 2.7 percent of the total regional economy.
  • For students, the impact translates to an annual 16 percent return on their investment.
  • For taxpayers, the annual return on investment is 6 percent.

Whether or not you buy those numbers isn't critical to our discussion today. What does matter is that there is agreement over NIC's place not just on the local academic landscape, but on the economic one, as well. More here.

Question: The Press editorial writer goes on to credit the NIC board of trustees for its solid job in running the college in these trying times, name Trustees Mic Armon and Judy Meyer, two incumbents seeking re-election. But not naming any of the challengers. What do you make of that?

Press: Aim Low On City Hall Raises

As this newspaper has documented several times over recent years, Coeur d'Alene city employees are among the best paid workers around. Add to their ample average earnings a benefits package that exceeds anything the local private sector can offer, and city employees are the envy of many. We have no desire to unleash another personal attack on city personnel. We've seen and heard enough of that in the wake of the McEuen quake. While most of the thunder behind the recent recall movement rumbled because of the controversial park, a lightning bolt or two was generated by the disparity between what the typical private-sector worker receives and what her or his counterpart at the city receives. With that in mind, we respectfully ask city officials and their employees from three separate unions to consider how short-term gain is likely to increase long-term pain/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Do you support 3 percent raises for city of Coeur d'Alene workers?

Press: Free To Not Believe

In response to an advertising campaign by Inland Northwest atheists, the Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board opines: "Jefferson, Adams and the rest were students of history whose political perspectives were honed to a fine point by the pain of personal experience. They clearly understood that for freedom to flourish, faith must never be legislated. They knew that the ideal role of government is to protect citizens' rights to think independently and to believe whatever they want to believe; to actively exercise that belief system so long as it doesn't impinge upon the rights of others. If the Freedom From Religion Foundation's billboard campaign is helpful in reminding us that places of worship and of government must never occupy the same space, then we're grateful to our atheist neighbors for providing a valuable public service." More here.

Question: How firmly do you believe in the separation of church and state in this country?

Press: Requiem For A Good Program

Fans of the Coeur d'Alene School District's International Baccalaureate program, that sure does sound like taps in the background. Since a group of citizens just this side of the John Birch Society took lethal aim at IB, worried that the globally acclaimed program for accelerated learners was actually scholastic subterfuge behind which commies and atheists and Cubs fans lurked, its life in North Idaho was limited. First IB was cut from two high schools to one. Now it is up before the district's Board of Trustees for execution. Our defense of the program is strong but not boundless. The curriculum itself is outstanding. Top educators across the nation agree that teaching our children to think critically is as vital a mission as any, and IB excels at that. Its Theory of Knowledge class is without peer in North Idaho. But the IB curriculum is challenging enough to scare away many students, and in the final analysis it is only going to be as valuable as its teachers and students make it/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here. (Coeur d'Alene School District photo: James Purtee, an appointed trustee who opposes IB)

Question: Are you going to miss International Baccalaureate?

McCrory Unhappy With Press Editorial

I'm still trying to figure out the contempt that OpenCDA-dot-Com has for the Coeur d'Alene Press. I thought the Press played things as close to the middle as possible during the failed recall attempt. But Bill McCrory takes after the Press again this week for the Sunday editorial ("Clarify rules for recall") advocating clarification of state recall laws (which you'd think OpenCDA-dot-Com would endorse). Instead, McCrory lambastes the Press ("the propaganda machine of Hagadone Corporation") for being, ahem, MIA during the "the illegal conduct of the 2009 Coeur d’Alene City election." Mr. Bill wonders where the Press was in the 2009 election (which survived legal review) and then answers his own question: "Hiding under the beds with some District Court judges, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Kootenai County Clerk Dan English and Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh who did not want anyone understanding  just how FUBAR Idaho’s election administration laws were.  Today, those same laws are SUSFU.  And that’s exactly the way the aforementioned Press and officials like them." McCrory claims the Press editorial is particularly "insidious" because "it wants to amend Idaho’s Constitution and statutes to limit the people’s ability to recall elected officials." You can read the whole rant here.

Question: Would you like to see Idaho recall laws loosened to make it easier to recall elected officials?

Press: Clarify Rules For Recall

Sorry, but the recall debate isn't over. In fact, prior to the next session, legislators should put their heads together and talk a great deal about it, then adopt stronger, clearer laws in 2013. Both sides of the recent attempt to recall four Coeur d'Alene City Council members are still sorting out the significance of lessons learned, but they can largely agree on the need for clarity in state recall election statutes. One concern is the nebulous nature of the 75-day window from the start of the petition drive to the last moment the petition signatures can be verified. Between the offices of the Secretary of State, the Kootenai County Clerk and the Coeur d'Alene City Clerk, nobody seemed to clearly understand how that 75 days should be divided between collecting signatures, turning them in to city officials and then having the county verify those signatures. The timeline seemed to twist and turn like an unruly river, leaving too much room for arbitrary interpretation/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Jerome A. Pollos Coeur d'Alene Press file photo: Press Jennifer Drake glances over at Michael Sheneman as they stand next to each other at the launch of the unsuccessful recall effort in April)

Question: What do you think needs to be fixed re: Idaho's recall law?

Letter: I Did Not Sign Recall Petition

After returning to Coeur d’Alene on June 28, I was informed that my name was included on the Recall Petition and was rejected because of incorrect information. I have been out of the country for two years and did not sign or authorize anyone to do so. Someone fraudulently signed my name to the Coeur d’Alene Recall Petition/Kristin Odenthal, Coeur d'Alene, letter to the editor/Coeur d'Alene Press.

Question: What do you think happened here?

Press Edit: From The Recall Ashes

The bid to recall four Coeur d’Alene city officials failed, a lack of petition signature oxygen leading to political asphyxiation. One side is celebrating. The other is commiserating. And in between is a big camp of constituents who simply want the appropriate electoral process to resume so citizens may choose their elected representatives. As tempting as it is for anyone to read volumes of irrefutable truths into the failure, now is the time for the community to take a deep breath, exhale slowly and think clearly. Knee-jerk reactions based on emotion, rather than reason, will only deepen the divide. A little time for healing and for real analysis to take place will pay huge dividends. React quickly with emotion, and we’ll just end up back in some similar mess a little further down the road/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Is it time to forgive & forget?

Edit: Weight Of Words Favor Recall

On the Coeur d'Alene Press editorial page today, Editor Mike Patrick tells of an electronic search from April 5 to June 11 of all letters and guest opinions about the Coeur d'Alene recall attempt: Here's the results:

  • NEUTRAL: Two letters to the editor (427 words) and three columns (1,781 words) from writers fell into this category. The writers did not take a firm for or against stance, but rather, presented other options or commented on the recall attempt's impact in some other way. TOTAL WORDS: 2,208
  • AGAINST THE RECALL: We published 28 letters to the editor (5,869 words) and four columns (3,625 words) from writers who clearly oppose the recall effort. TOTAL WORDS: 9,494
  • FOR THE RECALL: During the petition-gathering process, The Press printed 31 letters to the editor (7,899 words) and seven columns (6,279 words) supporting the recall effort. TOTAL WORDS: 14,178
  • Full opinion piece here.