Latest from The Spokesman-Review
A submitted photo (from Wendy Woods) of her friend Eric Byron Johnston, the man shot and killed Sunday morning by a Coeur d'Alene Police officer. (Courtesy of Wendy Woods)
Wendy Woods stood next to her blood-soaked carpet this morning and cried for the loss of her close friend, Eric Byron Johnston, who was shot and killed Sunday morning by a Coeur d’Alene police officer. “He was so funny, so sweet – the most reliable friend in my life,” Woods said. “And for them to just come here and shoot him dead like that? It’s sickening.” Other friends and family members reacted today with shock and anger over the shooting inside an apartment at 1422 E. Young Ave., north of Sanders Beach. “Eric was like the backbone in my company,” said Charles Ray Larsen III, who owns Ray’s Rooftop Moss Removal in Coeur d’Alene. “Eric was the kind of person that wouldn’t step on an ant – a quiet, gentle soul.” Johnston, 35, a Dalton Gardens resident, was shot multiple times from about 10 feet away as he clutched a serrated kitchen knife, according to accounts of the confrontation shortly before 8 a.m./Scott Maben, SR. More here.
OrangeTV: I don't believe I knew the deceased at all, but this situation makes me completely sick to my stomach. Why why why must an officer shoot and kill in a case like this? Can the CdA PD not put into use a taser gun or some such non-lethal type of deterrent to be used in a scenario like this? WHY must a life be lost, *poof*, just gone, when this guy sounds like many of us and our loved ones who had made some bad choices earlier in life but certainly did not deserve to die. Why do police departments seem to have such little regard to human life these days? Christie, I hope there is more than meets the eye to this story because I am pretty much mad as heck and utterly chilled to the bone about the implications of this situation if not. Sad sad sad.
Question: What are your concerns re: the police-involved shooting Sunday morning in Coeur d'Alene?
In 1978, when Doug Eastwood hired on with the city of Coeur d'Alene, there were only eight developed parks. Eastwood was a landscape gardener back then. Thirty-five years later, the now Ex-Parks Director can take pride in the city's 30 parks, totaling 587 acres, 250 acres of natural open space, more than 30 miles of trails and two cemeteries. “Over your long tenure, you have superbly led the Parks Department through an era of unprecedented growth and remarkable accomplishment,” Mayor Sandi Bloem wrote in a letter congratulating Eastwood on his retirement. “Commendably, you leave behind monumental and enduring quality of life enhancements to be enjoyed for generations.” About 60 of Eastwood's close family and friends turned out to his retirement roast on Friday afternoon at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Gabe Green Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Duog Eastwood holds his granddaughter during his retirement party at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library Friday)
Question: How would you grade the Coeur d'Alene parks system?
Sources tell The Spokesman-Review that the man shot and killed Sunday by a Coeur d’Alene police officer was Eric Byron Johnston, 35, of Dalton Gardens. Johnston worked at a mechanic at Complete AutoCare in Dalton Gardens and also worked for his brother-in-law at Ray’s Rooftop Moss Removal in Coeur d’Alene. David Larsen, a close friend and coworker at Complete AutoCare, said Johnston was soft-spoken and a hard worker. “Just a good guy all around, you know, give the shirt off his back to help you out,” he said. Johnston was shot shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday at the apartment of a friend at 1422 E. Young Ave., north of Sanders Beach and west of the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course. Police said he had smashed his pickup truck into an Avista Utilities pole, severing it at the base, a block and a half away from there about a half hour earlier/Scott Maben, SR. More here.
PUBLIC LANDS — Forest Service firefighters are continue to attack a four-acre wildfire today just east of Coeur d’Alene near Wolf Lodge, says Jason Kirchner, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman.
The fire is along Marie Creek, which includes a popular hiking trail two and a half miles north of I-90 and five miles east of the Wolf Lodge exit.
Smoke and firefighting aircraft may be visible from the interstate.
The Marie Creek Fire is lightning caused and was first noted as a one-acre fire late Sunday night, Kirchner said.
Firefighters, including helicopters, Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) and ground crews, spent Monday constructing fire line and dropping retardant to slow and contain the blaze. Firefighting actions today will include additional fire line construction, and water and retardant drops.
Firefighting efforts are complicated by the difficult terrain, he said.
“The closest private property is located more than a mile to the west, but at this time there are no threats to structures.”
Further updates for this wildfire will be posted at www.inciweb.org
Steve Widmyer emails: “Just a clarification on the walk. I am walking all the streets of Coeur d Alene but at this point I am not making door to door stops. If I see people on the road or in their lawns I wave and if it looks like they would like to talk I will stop. Everyone is very busy in their lives and I respect their privacy. I, for one, have never really liked someone coming up unannounced to my door. This walk puts me out there and lets people know I am available to talk if they wish..It also gives me a chance to see all of the areas of Coeur d Alene up close. Someone asked me why I just didn't drive all the streets because it would be much faster. My answer is that I want to see as much as I can and give those people that wish to talk an opportunity. I want to be the most available and approachable Mayor that Coeur d Alene has had. I think the walk is just part of it. I worked the street fair for 3 days and I will be at the North Idaho Fair for 5 days. My email address is Steve@widmyerformayor.com for anyone that has a question for me.
Question: Do you mind having candidates knock on your door?
On his Facebook page, Coeur d'Alene mayoral candidate Steve Widmyer writes: “
In the “What If You Throw A Protest and Few Notice” Dept, Examiner.com reports that “about 13” protesters manned the I-90 overpass at Northwest Boulevard, Coeur d'Alene, on Tuesday as part of the national Overpasses for Obama's Impeachment demonstration. Reports the Examiner.com: “In mid-July, (organizer Mike) Towan said he had hoped to get enough participants to cover every overpass on I-90 from Post Falls to Wallace. Unfortunately, he said, most simply could not take time off from work to participate.” Some sympathizers reportedly were concerned that the IRS would target them if they participated in the demonstration. You can read the Examiner.com report here.
Here's the man behind all the free concerts that Coeur d'Alene/Hayden/Rathdrum residents enjoy summer long: Chris Guggemos. Chris is the one who reads the names of the sponsors of these wunnerful concerts that take place at City Park (1-4 Sundays), Sherman Square Park (6-8:30 Tuesdays), Hayden City Park (6-8:30 p.m. Thursdays) and Rathdrum City Park (6-8:30 p.m. Fridays). You can check Chris' Handshake Productions site to see a lineup of bands for the concerts here. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)
Question: Which venue is your favorite for an outdoor concert in Kootenai County?
Item: Ceiling rises on city salaries: COLA increases can put department head pay above wage scale/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: Nearly every Coeur d'Alene city department head is earning the maximum amount allowed under their wage scale. Fourteen of the 17 department heads have hit the high end of what their pay bracket allows, meaning they're no longer eligible for merit increases. In one case, according to human resource records obtained through a Freedom of Information request from The Press, a department head is earning more than what the pay scale allows because of Cost of Living increases earned along the way.
Question: Will city salaries be a major issue in the 2013 Coeur d'Alene municipal elections?
A home safe loaded with up to $100,000 in gold and silver coins was stolen from a Coeur d'Alene residence in a brazen burglary just before 1 a.m. Sunday. “It's unreal,” homeowner Marla Ross (shown in Coeur d'Alene Press photo), 54, said Monday. When she arrived at home, in the 900 block of 16th Street, she spotted an unfamiliar dark-colored Ford pickup truck with oversized tires backed up in her driveway. She exited her car and saw a man standing in a side doorway of her home, and she demanded to know what he was doing inside her home. She then saw a man get out of the pickup truck. To her surprise, he yelled at her to get out of his way, walked up to her gold 2006 Chrysler 300, got in and sped south on 16th. The other man then jumped in the truck and took off in the same direction/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Have you ever experienced a burglary of your home?
A 54 year-old female returned to her residence at 12:55 a.m. and saw a large truck parked in her driveway. She said no one should have been in her home except for her elderly father who is physically disabled from a stroke. She exited her vehicle and noticed a tall, thin built man standing in the doorway to her home. She asked him what he was doing in her residence. She then observed a heavy set male exit the truck that was in her driveway. He yelled at her, and then walked up to her vehicle, got into it and drove away southbound on 16th at a high rate of speed. The second suspect then jumped into the truck in the driveway, and also fled in the same direction. The victim’s vehicle is a 2006 gold Chrysler 300 license plate K434146. This vehicle is still missing and is entered into NCIC as a stolen vehicle/Coeur d'Alene Police Department. More below.
JimmyMAC (re: Outsiders & Coeur d'Alene politics): IMHO- one of THE best parts about living in CDA Area is the proximity to Spokane and if I lived in Spokane I was probably say the opposite to be just as true. My wife and I absolutely love going to Spokane on Fridays or Saturdays. Let me count the ways I love Spokane: Nordstroms, GU Basketball, Riverfront Park, Mobius, Manito Park, Spokane CC, Clover, Milford's, Spencer's, concerts at Memorial Arena, Pig Out, Hoopfest, Davenport Tower, Bistangos, Franks Diner, Dr. Robins, The Opera House, all of the business I do with Spokanites, etc etc etc. Love love love living in North Idaho but it wouldn't be nearly as great without the short trip to Spokane to the West. Sorry John, there is just no reason to bag on Spokane as it is a compliment to our area, not a threat.
Question: What do you appreciate most about Spokane?
Steve and Marie Widmyer are shown in this Facebook photo at their booth at the Downtown Street Fair, which is attracting buckets of rain this afternoon. Steve, who is running hard for Coeur d'Alene mayor, plans to be at the street fair from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. today and Saturday — and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. His booth is located between 4th and 5th streets on the north side of Sherman.
Question: Who is running harder for mayor at this point — Steve Widmyer, Mary Souza, Jim Brannon or Joe Kunka?
Some of the most eye-popping public art going up in Coeur d’Alene can be found at busy intersections. Original paintings and photos digitally transferred to vinyl are dressing up drab signal boxes from downtown and Riverstone to Ramsey Road and Government Way. Inspired by a similar project in Boise, the city and the Coeur d’Alene Arts Commission launched the beautification program last year with art wraps on six of the street-level metal boxes, which house traffic signal equipment. They’re on track to decorate another 13 boxes this year and plan to continue next year. The wraps add to the city’s public art inventory while also deterring graffiti. Blank canvases are a target of taggers, but defacement stops once the vibrant wraps go on, said Steve Anthony, Coeur d’Alene’s recreation director/Scott Maben, SR. More here.
Question: Do you enjoy the artsy signal boxes?
Update: Kiki told Huckleberries moments ago that she would seek Deanna Goodlander's seat.
Kiki Miller, a longtime Coeur d'Alene resident and community activist, announced today that she is a candidate for the Coeur d'Alene City Council. Miller has lived in Coeur d'Alene since 1975 and has been involved in numerous civic and leadership projects over the past several decades. “I'm running for city council because I've spent the last 30 years being involved in multiple aspects of community service, promoting our region, and civic projects that have helped to create our great city,” said Miller. “We have challenges in the near future, but we can have positive outcomes if we involve the creative vision of the entire community.” Miller's vision for the city includes a quality education system, a diverse offering of sustainable jobs, responsible planning, and strong fiscal management in order to grow the local economy, while protecting the natural resources and (the city's) quality of life. Full news release here.
Question: How do you think Kiki Miller will fare in her run for the City Council?
Christie Wood (re: Press: Confront city union issue): Although I do not represent the Police Association as a spokesperson I am a member of the Association and don't mind articles that encourage conversation with the public. That is healthy for any organization but I do like them to be specific with our titles. The Police Association is not a union. We do not have union representation or solidarity with other LE organizations in the state. We represent ourselves in all discussions with the City leaders. The firefighters are union members and follow all collective bargaining laws established by the state. However they too represent themselves without union representation when they bargain with City leaders. It is a respectful process we share with the City and we are grateful to our citizens for giving us the right to speak to our leaders about pay, benefits, and working conditions. The City leaders are far from push overs. All of them have worked hard to keep the appropriate balance with tax payer funds.
Question: Why are Idahoans so opposed to unions, especially public ones?
Several elementary and middle schools have banned the game from classrooms. They are out of stock in stores. There are even professional teams, and one such team will have its own documentary with a stop in Coeur d’Alene today. It’s Kendama — essentially a Japanese ball-in-cup toy. This morning’s meet and greet with the Kendama Co. Pro Team, hosted at Figpickels Toy Emporium, will be featured in their documentary, The KenCo Story. Fanatics will not only have the chance to get their toy signed but afterward will be able to head over to the Coeur d’Alene Resort to participate in workshops where they can learn from the experts/Anna Clausen, Inlander. More here. (Inlander illustration)
Question: Have you tried your hand at Kendama?
Item: Cd'A salaries in the spotlight: City contracts with three collective bargaining groups/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: It's sure to be hot political fodder this fall. When Coeur d'Alene City Council and mayoral candidates hit the campaign trail leading up to the Nov. 5 general election, what the city should do about employee salaries could be tops among stumping points. Keep the status quo? Reduce pay slightly? Or, whack wages completely? Three City Council seats and the mayor's chair are up for election. That's the majority of the seven-member panel, so the salary answer should depend on November's outcome.
Question: How big of an issue will city employee salaries be in the fall municipal campaigns?
I've been waiting to exhale since I learned that anti-City Hall activist Mary Souza was running for mayor. I knew someone would step forward to oppose her — and I don't mean Jim Brannon or Joe Kunka. However, I was hoping it wasn't some self-diluted individual who would pull votes from a stronger, nonpartisan candidate. Now, that Steve Widmyer has stepped forward, I can exhale. Widmyer, the owner of the historic Fort Ground Grill, has a solid business background and deep roots in the community. Also, he's his own man, without ties to the divisive Far Right politics that threatened to tear this community apart before voters erected a resounding stop sign during the recent Coeur d'Alene School Board elections. Given the alternative choices, Widmyer's bandwagon is worth jumping on. However, Widmyer's decision to step forward is only the first step in keeping our City Council out of the hands of radical ideologues. It'll also be important to keep the free seats now held by Woody McEvers, Deanna Goodlander and Mike Kennedy. Kennedy has already announced his decision not to run again. McEvers and Goodlander are testing the political waters for possible re-election bids. I like the incumbent council members. But it is possible that they acquired too much baggage in their decisions to back the McEuen Field makeover, urban renewal, and the controversial antidiscrimination ordinance. The strongest nonpartisan candidate for those seats should get support, whether it's one of the incumbents or someone else. The Far Right will certainly have its own candidates for those seats. Widmyer has a good chance to keep the mayor's seat out of radical hands. Now, it's time to focus on the best nonpartisan candidates for the three council seats/DFO.
Item: 'We're not anti-environment': Lakeshore property owners group wants more flexibility in land use code/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press
More Info: CLPOA Vice President Bruce Cyr explained the association's position on the code and urged about 150 lakeshore owners in attendance to make sure to educate themselves on the issue. Cyr has been trying to influence the issue since 2010. He said that is when the county started to rewrite its land use code. He said the association is primarily concerned with setback regulations that could wind up preventing any dock, deck or landscaping activity within 25 feet of the waterfront. “Instead of infringing on the regulations, we wanted them to give us some flexibility in the rules,” Cyr said. “Stopping all activity in the area didn't make sense.”
Question: Does the Coeur d'Alene Lakeshore Homeowners Association have a legitimate beef about the proposed Unified Land Use Code?
Longtime businessman Steve Widmyer, 52, threw his hat in the ring Wednesday, saying he is definitely going to run for mayor of Coeur d'Alene. Widmyer is mostly known as the owner of Fort Grounds Grill, but he also owns two women's boutiques with his wife and several commercial and residential buildings in Coeur d'Alene. He said he has been kicking the idea around for the past month or so, but one phone call pushed him over the top. “I got a call from an 80-year-old resident of Coeur d'Alene this week, and he told me that he was worried about the future of the city,” Widmyer said. “That's when I thought I need to be paying attention to that”/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Facebook page photo of Steve Widmyer)
Question: Who will win in a four-way battle among Steve Widmyer, Mary Souza, Jim Brannon and Joe Kunka?
Idaho cities will be required to cut the amount of phosphorus they discharge into the Spokane River by more than 90 percent over the next decade to protect water quality, according to draft wastewater permits released Thursday. The new limits will require millions of dollars in improvements to treatment plants, operated by the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls and the Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board, which pump treated sewage into the river. The stricter permits are designed to comply with the federal Clean Water Act and protect water quality in both Idaho and Washington stretches of the river, said Michael Lidgard, a permit manager for the Environmental Protection Agency/Becky Kramer, SR. More here.
Question: Now do you see why it was important for Coeur d'Alene to push ahead with wastewater expansion, despite the attempt by Councilman Steve Adams to thwart the funding process?
More from: Kennedy not long for council: Also squelches mayor rumor/Tom Hasslinger, Press
One of the political groups Kennedy called extreme was the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, which endorses candidates on the grounds that all elections are partisan, regardless if candidates have to declare a party or not. Its founder, Jeff Ward (pictured), said Kennedy's Democratic affiliation made him a political minority across the region, and that a reason the councilman received so much criticism was because Kennedy's views ran counter to the majority who live in North Idaho. “That's exactly what a Democrat would say,” Ward said of Kennedy's “extreme” remark about a political group founded in what many people call the most conservative county in the most conservative state in the union, “because Democrats find conservatives extreme. The reality of it is that Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai County is highly conservative - it's not extreme, it's mainstream.
Question: Whose politics are more in line with yours — Mike Kennedy's? Or Jeff Ward's?
More Info: Kennedy supported McEuen Field's reconstruction, now well underway. He is the second of the four park supporting incumbents targeted in the recall not seeking re-election. Mayor Sandi Bloem is the other. The two remaining council members, Woody McEvers and Deanna Goodlander, haven't declared. City Councilman Dan Gookin (pictured) said McEuen Park will be a mandate this election, as it was in 2011. He said regardless of what incumbents say, a major decision not to rerun is because victory at the polls will be hard to achieve over of the public's dissatisfaction with McEuen Park. “I think that's absolutely why they don't run,” Gookin said. “They don't want to face an angry mob”/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
- Related: Kunka joins Souza, Brannon in race for Coeur d'Alene mayor/Press
Question: Do you think that, deep down, Mayor Sandi Bloem and Councilman Mike Kennedy decided not to run for re-election because they feared facing fallout for supporting McEuen Field reconstruction?
I received the nicest postcard from Coeur d'Alene mayoral candidate Mary Souza in the mail Monday — an invitation to join her for a glass of lemonade and a chat at the Sherman Hardware parking lot after the 4th of July Parade Thursday. The invite read: “I hope you can join me for a cup of lemonade and a chat about how we can bring openness and trust back to our city government. I cannot think of a better occasion than Independence Day to hear from you on how we can together launch a better future of our city.”
DOTC re: postcard: I think it shows Mary is obviously very organized and serious. Agree with her or not, I certainly rate her as a contender.
Question: How would you rate Mary's chances of becoming Coeur d'Alene mayor?
From left, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Vice President Joe Biden applaud during a ceremony to dedicate the statue of Frederick Douglass, seen behind them today in the Emancipation Hall of the United States Visitor Center on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner will be the focus of a fundraiser in Coeur d'Alene in which 1st District Congress Raul Labrador wasn't invited. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
U.S Speaker of the House John Boehner will visit Coeur d'Alene Friday for a private fundraiser in Congressman Raul Labrador's 1st District. According to organizers, Labrador is not attending the private event, and he's not talking about it either. “Sorry it's taken me awhile to get back to you,” said Labrador's spokesman Todd Winer, responding to repeated inquiries about the event. “We don't have any comment on the story you're working on.” Ron Nilson, CEO of Ground Force Worldwide, is helping to organize the event at the local level. He said Ed Schweitzer, CEO of Schweitzer Engineering in Pullman, is hosting the event/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Hmm. Let's read between the lines. Why would Congressman Raul Labrador not attend (not be invited to?) fund-raising event in his district that features House Speaker John Boehner? Pay back?
FishinJay (re: “FB: No rental houses in Coeur d'Alene”): There are lots of “for rent” signs, but the conditions in many of these places are disgusting. I can speak from experience here, because I just completed a 4 month effort to find a place to live. I started off with a month and a half of looking at just about every 2 or 3 bedroom house for rent in the 83814 zip. Let me tell you, slum-lording is alive and well in CdA! It is common to find black mold, rotten floors and ceilings, broken appliances and fixtures, stained stinking carpet, and a flat out refusal by the land lord to fix those things prior to a renter moving in. But it was easy to see why: people are snapping up these rentals just as quickly as they come on the market. It's unbelievable to me what other people are willing to rent in this town. Remainder of comment in drop-down box.
Question: Have you had a bad experience with a rental or a landlord in the Coeur d'Alene/Kootenai County area?
Ray Stone was not one to back down from political pressures. “You always knew where he stood,” Ron Edinger said of the former Coeur d'Alene mayor. “He was a very staunch Democrat - and he always let you know it. He stood by what he believed.” Stone, Coeur d'Alene's mayor from 1986 to 1994 and a city council member from 1971 to 1979, died at The Hospice House in Coeur d'Alene Monday. He was 89. Stone was also a World War II veteran, the leader and drummer of a local band called The Ray Stone Swing Band, a teacher and a former dean at North Idaho College. Edinger, also a former Coeur d'Alene mayor and city council member who served with Stone, said Stone looked out for the “little guy or underprivileged person” “I lost a dear friend in Ray Stone and a good golfing buddy,” Edinger said. “He was a feisty and kind-hearted man”/Brian Walker, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo: In 1995, Ray Stone tells an audience at the Coeur d'Alene Library about his experience in helping liberate a Nazi concentration camp)
- From Monday: Former Coeur d'Alene mayor Ray Stone dies/Scott Maben, SR
DFO: Feel free to share any other remembrances you have of former, two-term mayor Ray Stone.