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Hobnobbing At Blogfest 2014

This photo by Don Sausser represents what blogfest — and, hopefully, this blog — is all about. Two men with different political views — former state Rep. Gary Ingram, the father of the Open Meeting Law, and former County Clerk Dan English hobnobbing at Steve Widmyer's Fort Ground Grill over a good meal provided by Bent (pulled pork), Steve (mac-and-cheese, baked beans, cookies & venue) & Herb (potato salad). I've been to every blogfest. Of course. I'd rate this one as the. Best. One. Ever. In terms of turnout, camaraderie among a broad spectrum of individuals, and overall vibe. BTW, Dan later bought County Clerk Jim Brannon a beer in a let-bygones-be-bygones move.

Former County Clerk Dan English comments: "I very much enjoyed it. I spent quite a bit of time at a table with Gary Ingram talking about everything from potential candidates to hearing aids. I enjoyed seeing other old friends and people who post here and yes, did get to buy that beer for Jim Brannon before I left which he graciously accepted. Now, that's not to say we won't be on a different page on philosophy and voting but yes, it's nice to have a fun and civil interchange. The annual blogfest does that for sure. I can't think of many, if any, other community events that gets this full of a cross section of folks from all points of the political and community compass."


English-Morse Is Race To Watch

The Idaho Statesman has listed seven legislative races to watch in Idaho, including the District 2 matchup between Republican Ed Morse and Democrat Dan English. The Statesman says this about that race:

"This is the seat that was held by Republican Phil Hart.  Hart’s years of not paying income taxes have caught up with him, he now faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and penalties, both state and federal, and has been in and out of court all year.  Hart lost his seat in the primary to Republican Ed Morse. Morse now faces Democrat Dan English, who is well known in North Idaho.  English originally got into the race thinking he would face Hart.  It's a Republican District, so English faces an uphill battle." You can read what the Statesman says about the other 6 races to watch here.

Question: How much of a chance do you give Democrat English of winning a race in a solid Republican district?

Democrats For District 2

I spotted this on Cheryl Stransky's Facebook page — the three Democrats running for Legislative District 2 position, from left, Dan English, Cheryl and Shirley McFadden. English will face Republican Ed Morse in the race for defeated Rep. Phil Hart's House seat. Stransky is running against Republican incumbent Vito Barbieri. And McFadden is opposing state Sen. Steve Vick.

Question: Does anyone know whether there'll be any debates for the legislative races in Kootenai County?

Dapper Dan at the Fair

It's not often that you find a picture of a candidate with his hand on a donkey's…on an ass's…

Oh nevermind.

Duane Rasmussen shot this photo of Dan English looking fit and fiesty in the Democrat booth at the Kootenai County Fari. English, a former county clerk, is currently running for State Representative.

Rasmussen reports there was only a handful of people in the booth and notes the Farris football looks "kinda squishy".

Do you visit political booths at the Fair. Why or why not?

DOTC: Not Worthy Of A Recall

Dan of the County: To be honest, I have gone back and forth on the idea of a public vote. In most cases, I think without question our form of representative government means that the elected officials are supposed to make the decisions that come across their path while in office, the easy ones—the hard ones—the good ones—and the bad ones. But every once in awhile something may come along that is of such a broad public interest and unique set of circumstances that a public vote may (heavy on the may) be called for. I think the hydroplane issue and the vacation of Sherman Avenue in front of the resort would fall into those categories. But I also respect the right of the council members at the time to make those decisions. If you don’t like their decision, that is what the next election is for but certainly not grounds for a recall in my book. That is the capital punishment of electoral behavior and should be reserved for capital crimes not difference of opinions no matter how strong.

DFO: We will be discussing the reasons given for the recall this today and this week, breaking them down one by one to see if they are worthy of a recall.

Popkey: Democrat Can Win Hart Seat

Dan Popkey, the Idaho Statesman political writer and columnist, picks state Rep. Phil Hart's District 2 seat as one of six legislative seats in which Republicans are vulnerable to a Democratic upset this year. He writes: "Kootenai County’s District 2 is among the half-dozen most Republican strongholds in the state. But if tax scofflaw and timber thief Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, wins a four-way GOP primary, it’s game on. Democrat Dan English is a licensed professional counselor and popular former city councilman, school board member and county clerk, who was president of the Idaho Association of County Recorders and Clerks. English is the sort of common-sense Democrat who used to win in North Idaho and enough embarrassed Republicans might be willing to vote D to end the Hart farce. Former GOP Rep. Ron Vieselmeyer could give Hart trouble because of lingering name ID, but a four-way race always favors the incumbent. If party elders have any sense, they’ll be pressing for a further thinning of the GOP ranks. (Hayden City Councilwoman Jeri DeLange dropped out last week, citing the crowded field.) The other GOP hopefuls are real estate appraiser Ed Morse and firefighter Fritz Wiedenhoff. And: More here.

Question: Do you think Democrat Dan English can with the House District 2 seat from the Republicans?

DOTC Appreciates McHugh’s Emotion

Dan Of The Community: I attended and it was a very informative and civil event. I happened to sit right behind Barry’s parents and next to the wife of Don Gary, no negative vibes or tension in the air. I think everyone, and likely Barry too, was caught off guard a little at his evident emotions that briefly welled up when talking about his feelings about the position. I took it as a sincere display of his commitment and see it as a sign of a whole and mature person. For someone who has to make the kind of decisions that a prosecutor must make including life and death sentencing options to the correct balance of charging discretion, I frankly think that is a good and healthy attribute to hang on to.

Question: Do you appreciate it when a political figure like Barry McHugh shows emotion?

DeLange Files For Hart’s Seat

Breaking! Fritz E. Wiedenhoff of Rathdrum told the Pachyderm Club this AM that he's filing for Phil Hart's House District 2B seat instead of Steve Vick's Senate seat b/c Mike Jorgenson wants to run against Vick.

The race for state Rep. Phil Hart's House District 2B seat just got curiouser as Hayden City Councilwoman Jeri DeLange (pictured) has filed. That means three people now running for the spot: Hart, DeLange and Ed Morse — as well as Democrat Dan English. Nothing else has changed in the race for spots now held by Hart, Vito Barbieri and Steve Vick (although, Huckleberries hears that former state senator Mike Jorgenson should file to challenge Vick for his old seat).

Question: Will Jeri's filing split the vote with Ed Morse, improving Hart's chances to survive the GOPrimary?

English Announces Outside Tax Office

Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey writes about Dan English, the former Kootenai County clerk who's filed as a Democrat to run for the seat now held by Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. Popkey says English has “an impressive resume for a challenger,” though he's running in a district where no Democrat has even run for the Legislature since 2002, and then there was just one candidate, who lost. The last one elected was in 1994.  Republican businessman Ed Morse of Hayden also is running; if Hart, a tax protester who's currently appealing more than $53,000 in back state income taxes and facing a possible home foreclosure over back federal income taxes, files for re-election, he'd face Morse in the GOP primary/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here (Bay Views photo of Dan English)

Question: How's that for a photo op?

English Files Against Hart In HD2B

Democrat and former Kootenai County clerk Dan English is running for the Idaho House seat now held by Phil Hart. English acknowledges that people are allowed to hold any political views they want, and in Hart's case, have tax protesting views. "But I don't think someone should be free to run term after term unchallenged when their belief and practices about our tax laws are so far out of line with ordinary, hard-working taxpayers who play by the rules, who pay their fair share, and expect everyone else to do the same," English said in his announcement speech Wednesday. "I can't imagine wanting to even give the appearance that I was somehow using the fact of being an elected office holder as a shield to avoid, or in any manner delay, the responsibilities and timelines that every other ordinary taxpayer must abide by." Republican Ed Morse has already filed a declaration of candidacy for the Seat B position in Legislative District 2. Hart might not run for re-election/Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: What is the best strategy for Dan English in trying to win this seat?

Dan English Files Against Phil Hart

Former Kootenai County Clerk, Dan English, will make a formal announcement about his candidacy for Legislative District 2, Position B, the seat currently held by Representative Phil Hart.  He will make his brief announcement remarks Wednesday, March 7st at 10:30 a.m.  He will make them outside 1910 NW Blvd. in Coeur d’Alene, in front of the State Tax Commission Office. English, 60, is a native of Kootenai County and has a lifetime record of service to his community.  He is the founder and former Executive Director of two local non-profits, North Idaho Youth for Christ and Anchor House-Idaho Youth Ranch.  He currently is the resident Manager of Twin Lakes Friends Camp and is a Licensed Professional Counselor.  In the past he has held positions as a city councilman, a sheriff’s detective, and a school board member among others. More here.

Question: Can Dan English beat Phil Hart?

DOTC: R’s Will Know Where You Live

DanOTC: Looks like another significant bureaucratic hurtle between the poor voter and their ballot. But at least the Republicans will get updated mailing lists at taxpayer expense so they probably believe their new closed primary law has some redeeming social qualities…but be very afraid to open your mail box once they all know where you live. I would predict that the public will be even stronger in their demand for permanent absentee ballot status. One of our most frequent complaints at the elections office was why in the world did people have to fill that out every year…and that was with a much easier and simpler form.

Question: Anyone plan to check "unaffiliated" when you request your absentee ballot?

Taggart Opposes Precinct Proposal

Tom Taggart is the second former Kootenai County clerk urging the Kootenai County commissioners to reject a proposal by County Clerk Cliff Hayes to reduce the number of voting precincts from 71 to 44. Taggart served as county clerk before Dan English, who also opposes successor Hayes' plan. In an email to HucksOnline, Taggart said the commissioners should avoid moving too quicklly during a year when redistricting already will add to voter confusion. He tells HBO: This "comes from people new to their positions who refuse to seek input or advice from those with expertise, but rather make decisions in a vacuum. If they don't back off there will be major problems in administering future elections. Voters will suffer under this proposal." You can read the letter that Tom sent to the commissioners re: this matter here. (Photo from Tom Taggart's Facebook page)

McHugh To Seek Re-Election

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh greeted former County Clerk Dan English after announcing this afternoon that he would seek re-election to his county office.

McHugh said his campaign "will focus on his accomplishments from his first term in the office, as well as his plans for the future.  In particular, McHugh focused on four areas in which he has and will remain committed to providing leadership: 1) A dedication to the safety of the citizens of Kootenai County, 2) Increasing accessibility for the public, 3) Increasing efficiencies in operations, and 4) Creating and environment of trust." More here.

Question: How many votes will Prosecutor Barry McHugh lose by being seen in the presence of a known Democrat?

Report: County Bad Checks Easy To Spot

Item: Police: Bad checks easy to spot: County official used correction fluid to hide thefts, detectives say/Meghann Cuniff, SR

More Info: A former Kootenai County chief deputy clerk accused of stealing nearly $140,000 over 10 years used correction fluid to try to cover her crimes, a police report alleges. Detectives easily spotted the county checks Sandra Kay Martinson, 62, deposited into her personal account – they say all were less than $1,000 and in even $5 increments, while legitimate checks were for larger, uneven amounts.


Cliff Hayes Replaces English As Clerk

Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes was sworn in at the Kootenai County administration building earlier today. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

$139,000 missing

COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene police investigating a suspected case of embezzlement by a former longtime Kootenai County employee have determined about $139,000 is unaccounted for from a 10-year period.

Coeur d'Alene detectives received a report Dec. 7 from Kootenai County Clerk-Auditor Dan English of an employee - named by English as chief deputy clerk Sandy Martinson - possibly embezzling money. David Cole, Cda Press More here.

Alison Boggs SR story:

Kootenai County’s former chief deputy clerk is suspected of embezzling $138,905 over 10 years, ending in October, the month before she retired, Coeur d’Alene police said Wednesday.

Sandy Martinson, 62, has not been charged or arrested. Coeur d’Alene police, however, sent a formal request for charges to the Bonner County prosecutor, who is handling the case because Martinson worked for Kootenai County. Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said he hopes to make a decision by late next week. Potential charges include grand theft and felony misuse of public funds, Marshall said.

The suspected theft highlights a funding loophole within the county that commissioners and the finance director say they are trying to close. More.

Life in a small town has many wonderful benefits. It also has it's drawbacks in that when things like this occur, people are quick to take sides based on who they know instead of the information being presented.

Why do you think the Lake City has seen so much political turmoil recently?

Recently retired Kootenai County employee suspected of embezzlement

Coeur d’Alene police are investigating a suspected long-term pattern of embezzlement by Kootenai County’s recently retired chief deputy clerk, a county employee for almost 35 years.

Kootenai County’s top elected officials announced in a news conference late Tuesday that a routine review of Sandy Martinson’s records upon her retirement last month revealed irregularities that led them to notify authorities.

The Coeur d’Alene Police Department has been investigating the situation for a month. Bonner County will handle the expected prosecution due to Martinson’s former employment with Kootenai County, said county Clerk Dan English.

English said he understands Martinson has made a statement to the police, but he doesn’t know what was said. He sat ashen-faced Tuesday with the three county commissioners in the Board of Commissioners meeting room. Alison Boggs/SR Read more.

Here's an update.

Martinson is suspected of suspected of embezzling $138,905 over a 10-year period ending in October.

What a sad turn of events. What motivates those in a position of trust to steal from their employers?

Dan: Am I The Last Of The Dems?

Dan of the Community: As I spend the last few weeks of my last term (mostly on some leave time since I've about cleared out all my desk and most real decisions should now be left up to the new clerk) it struck me that I may occupy a bit of a historical position in KC. Since the new legislators have already taken office so we don't have any D's in legislative District 2 or 4 and the new Congress starts on January 3rd, for about a week I will be the last elected Democrat in Kootenai County until the morning of January 10th (some of you can stop clapping now). Even with the recent low outcomes for D's, it still meant that at least one out of every three people at the polling place was voting Democrat and now won't have any official representationf from the Courthouse to the Statehouse and beyond. Some other old timers may know, but I'm not sure if there has ever been a time in KC history that there wasn't at least one elected Democrat around here. Full post below.

Question: When will the next Democrat be elected in Kootenai County? Who do you think it'll be?

DOTC: Hart Hid Behind Kelso

Dan of the Community: What strikes me is that as an elected official for more than 20 years I cannot even remotely imagine the circumstance where I or just about any other local elected official I have ever served with would not be willing to be present in person at this kind of a hearing, let alone not even being willing to speak for yourself over a telephone but having to have an attorney speak for you. What kind of accountability and transparency to the public is that? I find it especially ironic in that the attorney is the same one that had me on the stand for almost 8 hours over two days in the Cd’A election contest. I answered for myself and in person. I answered every single question firsthand to the best of my ability and didn’t stop until he finally ran out of questions.

Question: Did you find it strange that Rep. Phil Hart didn’t attend the House Ethics Committee hearing to defend himself Monday, relying on attorney Starr Kelso instead?

Dan Responds To Mary’s Accusation

Dan of the Community: Wow, this is about the most far out and insulting rumor I’ve heard and I can tell you, I’ve heard quite a few. To be clear, no one opens, looks at, and then reports what is on any ballots early. Period. Yes, if asked, I would have said how the rate of absentee ballots being returned in general. That’s a common question and answer that comes up pretty much every election cycle. But again, no one, including me would know who is being voted for or against on those absentee ballots.

Question: Does anyone out there honestly believe Dan would do what Mary is accusing him of doing — checking out ballots before the polls close?

For Those Keeping Score At Home …

Kootenai County Clerk Dan English will serve as a private subject matter expert for the Janie Ward-Engelking team Thursday, according to Dustin Hurst/Idaho Reporter. Democrat Ward-Engelking, as you may recall, lost her House District 18 race to Republican Julie Ellsworth by 9 votes, 6429 to 6420. Ward-Engelking has sent requested a recount.  Dustin reports that English is traveling to Boise at the expense of Engelking. More here.

Question: Given all the hoops that County Clerk Dan English successfully jumped through in the Jim Brannon lawsuit, do you think he’s qualified to be a private expert witness in this recount?

DOTC: No Ballots Were Counted Early

Dan of the County: To be clear, no ballots are counted early, period. It took two solid days of 8-10 people working to open just the absentee ballots that KC received this time. As it was, every available election worker worked until after 5 a.m. the next morning. I can’t imagine how long it would have been if they hadn’t already at least opened the absentee ballots even with the write-in issue. It sounds like a good compromise would be to still allow watchers but who are located in a separate room with a video feed of the overall process but not in enough detail to see marks on the ballot or at least make them be well back from the process if you can’t trust them not to violate the process of ballot secrecy. More below.

Question: Any other questions re: Election Night for Dan?


Huckleberries Talks With Dan English

  • DFO: Why do you think you lost the 2010 clerk’s election?
  • Dan English: I’m sure every race had its particular issues. I’m sure there were pro and con issues on mine. I have to look at the big picture. This was going to be a Republican strong year, no matter what. My particular race was part of a bigger picture. I came out better than most but far short of where I normally come out.
  • DFO: So are you saying that you’d probably have lost without the Brannon election challenge and the negative stories of the last few days in the Coeur d’Alene Press?
  • Dan English: Yes. My margin would have been closer (without those factors). One of the bellwethers for me? When I looked at Mary Lou Shepherd’s (HD2 six-term representative who lost) numbers, I realized that it was an almost impossible year for someone who was either a Democrat or an incumbent. And God help you, if you were both. It might have been 45 to 55 otherwise. I felt good until I saw the absentee vote.
  • More below

OOST: News Stories Hurt Clerk

Out Of Stater Tater: The lawsuit raised a lot of questions about how Dan (of the County) keeps house, fair or not. The stories over the last few days about his office failing to disburse revenues just reinforced those doubts.

  • Democratic County Clerk Dan English was unseated by Republican Cliff Hayes last night — 24,935 (60.49%) to 16,290 (39.51%), with 41,225 votes cast.

Question: Was Dan’s defeat simply a matter of the Republican tidal wave? Or did he suffer from the drawn Brannon election challenge and/or newspaper disclosures re: failed disbursements over the last couple of weeks?

13,000 Absentees & Counting

County Clerk Dan English told Huckleberries Online moments ago that the Election Department has received 13,026 absentee votes to date — and they’re still coming in. Staff has been opening envelopes for two days. English predicts that tabulations will occur long into the night, not because of problems but as a result of the volume of ballots plus two races involving write-ins. Also, he predicts the turnout will be in the 60+% range, based on the absentee ballots (which should make up around 30% of the vote). The county clerk reports no problems with the voter ID requirement in play this year. In fact, he said, a number of voters have commented that “it’s about time” that the state had the ID requirement.

County Fails To Distribute $400,000

Item: More tax relief not paid: County failed to distribute $400,000 due over 4 years/Alecia Warren, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: The Kootenai County Auditor’s Office revealed this week another failure with distributing tax revenue to county taxing districts, this time holding back nearly half a million dollars over four years. “We should have sent it out sooner. For that, I take responsibility,” said County Clerk Dan English. “The truth is, it fell through the cracks.” On account of an employee’s oversight, English said, the county failed to distribute a total of $400,000 in yield and deferred taxes to 20 taxing districts from 2006 through 2009.

Question: What do you make of this snafu?

Write-Ins To Delay Vote Count

Item: Write can go wrong election night: Ballot counting expected to spill into early hours of Wednesday morning/Mike Patrick, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: “I hate to say but we are really in uncharted territory,” County Clerk Dan English said Wednesday. “I know it [counting ballots] will be very lengthy and I expect into the early hours on Wednesday because the counting machines will stop each time there is a write-in ballot. That ballot will be removed to a write-in board of two people who will verify if it is a valid write-in.”

Question: Do you plan to vote for a write-in this year?

Hayes: Confidence In Clerk Shaken

Republican Cliff Hayes, pictured, is challenging 15-year incumbent Democrat Dan English for the position of clerk, which oversees the elections office, county assistance, District Court, auditor and recorder. Hayes said the lawsuit shook voter confidence and he’d like to restore trust. After 22 years as Post Falls’ police chief, Hayes believes he has the administrative ability to do that. … English, however, said while the lawsuit revealed some areas where the elections office could improve, the election was conducted in good faith and the law was followed to the best of his staff’s ability. State and local elections law includes numerous procedural requirements, he said/Alison Boggs, SR. More here.

Question: Did the court case involved in Jim Brannon’s lawsuit against Mike Kennedy shake your confidence in the county clerk’s office or reinforce your confidence in it?

Weekend Poll: NIC Trustee Choices?

  • Thursday Poll: Incumbent Dan English is the overwhelming choice of Hucks Nation in the Kootenai County clerk’s race. 137 of 192 (71.35%) said they plan to vote for Democrat English. 49 of 192 (25.52%) said they’ll vote for Republican Cliff Hayes. 6 are undecided.
  • Today’s Question: Which 2 candidates will get your votes in the 2010 North Idaho College Board of Trustee elections: Ken Howard, Robert Ketchum, Ron Nilson, or Christie Wood?