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I’m not surprised or disappointed by the action by Team Brannon to seek a new trial, as a precursor to a likely Idaho Supreme Court appeal of Judge Charles Hosack’s rejection of Jim Brannon’s election challenge. However, I do wonder what is Team Brannon’s goal at this point. With the Legislature even more in GOP hands and with sympathetic Kathy Sims soon to representing the city of Coeur d’Alene in the Legislature, Team Brannon could easily have worked with Sims to introduce legislation to tweak Idaho election law. Or Brannon simply could have thrown his hat into the ring again. After all, we’re 2 or 3 months from the beginning of the 2011 municipal election cycle. Why pursue an appeal that you’ll probably lose — and will cost you more money — if you have less expensive remedies elsewhere? Does Brannon view himself as some sort of martyr? Is this an effort to keep the 2009 City Council election in play, to tarnish the incumbents, as seemed to have been the purpose in the county clerk’s election this fall? Does Starr Kelso have some itch he needs to scratch by taking another case to the Idaho Supreme Court? Inquiring minds want to know — DFO.
In a move that’s likely a precursor to appealing the adverse ruling in Jim Brannon’s election challenge, attorney Starr Kelso has filed a motion for a new trial with Judge Charles Hosack. If I read the tea leaves correctly, the motion is a precursor for an appeal of Hosack’s decision naming incumbent Mike Kennedy as winner of the 2009 City Council seat against Brannon by 3 votes. You can read the long list of postings in this case with the Idaho State Judiciary here.
Question: Are you surprised that Brannon & Kelso are going ahead with this challenge?
Judge Charles Hosack has signed his decision against plaintiff Jim Brannon in Brannon’s challenge to the 2009 municipal election in which he lost to incumbent Mike Kennedy by 3 votes. Hosack signed the order for his ruling for Kennedy Thursday. Which means that Brannon now has 10 working days to file an appeal, a date estimated by Kennedy’s attorney Scott Reed to be Nov. 15. During the trial that lasted from Sept 13-18, Hosack disallowed 3 Kennedy votes and 1 Brannon vote to reduce the margin of victory for Kennedy from 5 on election night to the final margin of 3. Hosack decision here.
Question: Do you think Brannon will appeal Hosack’s decision to the Idaho Supreme Court?
The Twin Falls Times-News published a story today, titled: “Six things to know before you head for the polls.” Among the items listed in the story are: you still can register on Election Day, bring voter ID, and you can still vote if you forget your voter ID, by signing an affidavit. The top item on the list? Every vote counts. Anyone who has paid any attention to the 2009 City Council race that incumbent Mike Kennedy won eventually by 3 votes, should know that statement to be true.
Question: I vote as though I’m casting the deciding ballot when I go to the polls. How about you? Do you vote as though the election hangs in the balance?
As you may recall, Christa Hazel demanded a witness fee and mileage when she was subpoenaed by attorney Arthur B. Macomber to testify in the contempt of court case filed against Macomber’s client, Bill McCrory (as a side show in the long-running Jim Brannon lawsuit against Mike Kennedy). Judge Charles Hosack dismissed those charges. Now, Macomber has sent a letter to Christa asking that she return the witness fee because she didn’t have to testify or drive to the courthouse. And Christa, through attorney husband, Joel Hazel, is telling Macomber to pound sand. Responds Joel Hazel to Macomber: “It is certainly not my wife’s fault that you mistook a 4 p.m. status conference for a trial (Never in my 16-year law practice has a court set a trial at 4 p.m.)” Joel goes on to say his wife endorsed the witness fee check and turned it over to Mike Kennedy’s defense fund. So she doesn’t have the $21.46 to turn over to Macomber. “As such,” writes Joel, “the $21.46 will not be returned.” I’ll have links to letters in a few moments.
Question: Should Christa return the witness fee?
- Weekend Poll: 130 of 230 (56.52%) respondents to the weekend poll said the city of Coeur d’Alene should pay for prevailing Councilman Mike Kennedy’s legal fees from the Jim Brannon lawsuit. 87 of 230 (37.83%) said the city shouldn’t pay Kennedy’s legal expenses. 13 respondents were undecided.
- Today’s Question: Should the state of Idaho and Kootenai County government get the day off for Columbus Day today?
For once, I agree with the OpenCDA crowd on something. ‘Tis a shame that the Coeur d’Alene Press didn’t post online its top-of-the-fold, front-page Sunday story re: Councilman Mike Kennedy — the one with the 48-point headline: “Vindicated … validated.” I’m not sure which of the Mary-Bill-Dan troika posted the O-CDA reaction. But s/he writes: “The loving article tried to elicit care and concern for the poor city
councilman. And, in the unbalanced piece, every mention of Jim Brannon
and the Election Challenge managed to leave an icky feeling.” Mebbe there wouldn’t be an icky feeling if Brannon had offered his comments. Then, Brannon has hidden behind lawyer Starr Kelso and the O-CDA crowd for 11 months now. Why should that change. You can read the comments to the O-CDA story here.
Question: Is it time that Jim Brannon come out from hiding and speak for himself?
In one of those “Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day” moments, Dan Gookin of OpenCDA.com comments today that the city of Coeur d’Alene should foot Councilman Mike Kennedy’s legal bills. Quote: “Like him or not, Mr. Kennedy bore the brunt of the cost of defending his position in the election contest because he was declared the winner. Now I don’t know the specifics, but apparently the lawsuit had to name him personally as defendant. That’s Idaho Code, and I think it’s wrong.” More here. What do you think?
- Thursday Poll: Overwhelmingly, you Merry Hucksters (heart) the Idaho Education Association (or someone hijacked Thursday’s poll, as seems likely as a result of the ha-huge number of voters). 288 of 361 (79.78%) voted that they have a positive image of the IEA. 59 of 361 (16.34%) said they have a negative view of the teachers union. 14 were undecided.
Question: Should the city of Coeur d’Alene pay Councilman Kennedy’s legal bills, which amount to about $60,000 at this point?
Kendramama: I personally was just so happy to see MikeK’s headline on the Press the other morning- and for once, in the article it seems they got at least the majority of the facts right!- and to be able to rejoice for him that it seems all this happy crappy is hopefully over and he can go back to what he’s best at. That’d be A) serving as a very competent City Councilman (is that even supposed to be in caps? if not oh well); and, B) running Intermax, which (free plug, Mike!) is the best darn internet provider I’ve ever had and, except for the insanely expensive dish deposit/ installation fee ; -) , is actually quite cheap for being lightning fast and super reliable.
Question: In the drop-down part, Kendramama says that Mike Kennedy was the more sympathetic figure in the contested election — not Jim Brannon. Do you agree?
Stacy: Question for someone more knowledgable in law than I am: If Brannon and Kelso decide to appeal Hosack’s decision is Kennedy obligated to defend the appeal? What happens if he doesn’t? Is that the equivalent of conceding, and if so, what happens? My curiousity stems from the financial burden Kennedy now faces, not to mention what he’ll face if there is an appeal. Seems like at some point (unless you’re a trust fund baby) a person would have to cry “uncle” financially. I’m curious to know what Kennedy’s options are.
Question: Can someone answer Stacy’s question? Also, I have another one: Should the City Council step in at this point and offer to use taxpayer money to pay for Kennedy’s legal bills?
Retired Judge Charles Hosack, who presided over the six-day trial last month, ruled Tuesday evening that Brannon and Kelso failed to prove that the outcome of the election had changed. In his thorough 20-page ruling, Hosack never indicated he thought the suit to be frivolous, which would be a needed component for Kennedy to seek attorneys fees from Brannon. Kennedy attorney Scott Reed, who is out of town, called The Inlander to discuss the ruling. Reed says he did an estimate of legal costs some months back. “My estimate then was $40,000 and that was only me,” Reed says. With the addition of second attorney Peter Erbland, “I think it would be in the vicinity of $60,000 or $70,000 at least.” Reed says it’s unlikely Kennedy has any avenue to collect legal fees from Brannon.“The judge treated their complaint as a legitimate complaint,” Reed says/Kevin Taylor, Inlander. More here.
Question: Imagine, you win an election by 5 — er, 3 votes — and get handed a bill for $60,000 because your vanquished opponent can’t take no for an answer. Will this election discourage other citizens from running for local elections?
Following is a 5-Q interview that I just conducted with Councilman Mike Kennedy in the aftermath of his huge win in the Brannon election lawsuit Tuesday:
- DFO: How does it feel to finally have this burden lifted?
- Mike Kennedy: Relief, is the simple answer. I’ve been doing the job, so there isn’t anything different at all. I’ve had a number of people congratulate me for winning the election again.
- DFO: At this point, are you planning to try to recoup your legal costs & court fees?
- Mike Kennedy: Yes. I don’t know the full process. I haven’t talked to my attorneys about it. I assume we’ll do that. I haven’t seen final numbers (re: legal costs) but I think, including everything, the number $60,000 is in the range. I’m not entertaining the idea of auctioning off any of my children to pay the legal bills.
- More below
Former county clerk/county administrator Tom Taggart comments: Having once been in DOTC’s shoes, I have been watching this legal challenge unfold over the last year with great sympathy toward Dan, Mike K, and especially Deedie. I was there when the election department was created and know first hand how important fair and honest elections are to Deedie. Anyone who has ever been involved in the administration of elections can testify that they are messy and that human errors happen. That is true all over the country. It is also clear that there is confusion between federal and state statues and guidelines. It is one thing to want to improve the process by tightening election laws, coordinating state and federal laws and guidelines, adding election department resources, etc. It is something else to sling mud at good and decent people. There was not one shred of evidence of any misconduct or collusion or fraud on the part of the election department, the city, or Mike Kennedy. More below.
At the Coeur d’Alene Press online site, commenter Rogue Cop tells the Brannonites who refuse to accept the judge’s verdict that there’s always a winner and a loser in such cases. Then: “The marginal
cause of action under which this case was filed barely met the threshold
for litigation. So money gets transferred from the taxpayers wallets to
the attorneys’ pockets. You folks aren’t looking out for the public,
you’re trying to advance a personal agenda and the upshot is that
Brannon is tainted now and unelectable in the future.” (Courtesy: OrangeTV)
Question: Is Jim Brannon now unelectable in Coeur d’Alene?
Mary Souza, who with Bill McCrory, seems to be the official spokesman for Jim Brannon (who rarely speaks for himself) has broken her silence in a comment below today’s OpenCDA post about the ha-huge election loss to Mike Kennedy & the city of Coeur d’Alene. She said she’d have been shocked had Team Brannon prevailed. Intones Mary: “The judge made his true feelings very clear when, during a legal hearing before the trial, he went off on a long, dramatic rant about how the Election Challenge was threatening voters’ rights to privacy. His remarks were highly prejudicial. (and very inaccurate).” Then, she begins the inevitable dot connecting that OpenCDA cranks are famous for. Hosack is “highly connected to the community.” He’s in the Tubbs Hill Association with Scott Reed. He’s — omigosh — “known as a Democrat.” Blah, blah, blah. You can read the rest of this nonsense on comment No. 13 here.
Question: Should Mary be haranguing Judge Hosack with her character assassination while McCrory still has to face him next week on the contempt charge?
Item: Judge upholds CdA election result: Kennedy retains seat on council by 3 votes/Alison Boggs, SR.
More Info: The court’s finding, however, did reduce Kennedy’s winning margin to three votes instead of five. Six votes were found to be illegal due to residency issues. An agreement among attorneys led to three of them being thrown out – two for Kennedy and one for Brannon – which reduced the margin to four votes. Of the three remaining illegal votes, two of the voters testified they could not remember who they voted for, testimony that Hosack found to be credible. The last illegal voter testified that she thought she had “probably” voted for Kennedy, and Hosack threw that vote out as well, reducing the vote margin to three.
Question: How will Brannon & Co. spin this?
Judge Charles Hosack has handed down a 20-page decision in the long-running lawsuit filed by challenger Jim Brannon to overturn his 5-vote loss to incumbent Mike Kennedy in the 2009 City Council elections. Hosack ruled for Kennedy. Here’s his conclusion:
“The Court concludes that there were insufficient illegal votes cast to change the outcome of the election. The Court concludes that there was no error in counting votes that would change the result of the election. The Court reaffirms, on alternative grounds, its denial of the Plaintiff’s Motion to Amend. The Court confirms the election result of Mike Kennedy’s election to Seat #2 on the City Council for the City of Coeur d’Alene in the November 3, 2009, Municipal election” — Judge Charles Hosack, 1st District Court. Read Judge Charles Hosack’s decision here.
Mike Kennedy just told Huckleberries: “I’m extremely pleased, but not surprised. The election was well run as we said all along.”
Question: Are you surprised?
RE: This is the 2nd of a 2-part series by the Idaho Reporter on the Brannon-Kennedy election trial. You can read the first part here.
That means that Brannon had no choice but to include Kennedy in as a defendant in the case. That fact was verified by Coeur d’Alene city attorney Mike Gridley in an interview Friday. Gridley represented the city in the court case, which wrapped up earlier this week. Named as a defendant in the case, Gridley said Kennedy had three options: To hire a lawyer for his defense, act as his own lawyer, or to ignore the whole thing and risk a default judgment in Brannon’s favor – though Gridley noted that scenario would be highly unlikely. Still, said Gridley, Kennedy shouldn’t be forced to fork out his own cash to defend his victory in the election. “There were never any allegations that Mike Kennedy did anything wrong or underhanded,” said Gridley. ”It does seem like it’s not real fair”/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here.
Question: Judge Charles Hosack should rule on the Brannon-Kennedy election case this week. How do you think he’ll rule?
- Originally posted 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21
Mike Kennedy has spent thousands of dollars to keep his seat on the Coeur d’Alene City Council. The money didn’t buy hundreds of campaign yard signs or pieces of literature; rather Kennedy’s money is being used to pay his lawyers to defend his victory in the 2009 race, the outcome called into question by challenger Jim Brannon. … While the two government entities were able to use taxpayer dollars to fund the case against Brannon, Kennedy is being forced to pay for his electoral victory defense out of his own pocket. Kennedy told IdahoReporter.com that he has raised and spent more than $6,000 on the legal challenge and the he expects the case to cost at least $50,000 more than that/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here.
Question: What do you think Jim Brannon’s legal expenses are?
At the Coeur d’Alene Press online site today, reporter Tom Hasslinger (who did a nice job covering the nuts & bolts of the Brannon Election Trial last week) offers some one-liners from the six-day trial, including: “‘She said she voted for Republican,’ (Peter) Erbland said attempting to illustrate that an illegal voter didn’t remember for whom she voted because the city race was non-partisan. ‘In fact, she said she was so Republican that she listened to Glenn Beck, didn’t she?’ … ‘Maybe that should be reason enough to throw the vote out,’ Kelso quipped.” You can read a few more here.
Question: Which moment did you consider the most humorous during the Brannon trial?
Fresh from protesting against the D grade that Congressman Walt Minnick has with the National Rifle Association (only he has a B+ grade), Kootenai County Reagan Republicans will host a luncheon at noon Thursday at Templin’s, with Jim Brannon as guest speaker. Challenging his 5-vote loss in the 2009 Coeur d’Alene municipal election, Brannon will speak on “How to Assure a Fair Election.” Also scheduled to speak is Raul Labrador supporte Jeff Ward, who will speak on “Wall Street Cash and the Idaho Election.”
Question: Why are the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans inviting Jim Brannon to speak on “fair elections” before a verdict is handed down in his case?
Item: Brannon suit goes to the judge: Hosack says it could take him 1-2 weeks to decide fate of Kennedy’s city council seat/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press
More Info: im Brannon wants a new election for Seat 2 on the Coeur d’Alene City Council. If one isn’t ordered, the incumbent, Mike Kennedy, has enough votes to secure the narrow victory no matter which way evidence on three more illegal voters is ruled. Kennedy won the Nov. 3 election by five votes. But 1st District Judge Charles Hosack must decide whether some irregularities during Coeur d’Alene’s Nov. 3 general election warrant a one-on-one runoff for the city council seat.
Question: Do you see any value to the long, judicial exercise involved in Jim Brannon’s challenge to his 5-vote loss to incumbent Mike Kennedy?
- 4:16 p.m. Judge schedules closing arguments for 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
- 4:13 p.m. Last voter that Brannon wanted to call is unavailable. Judge declares evidence phase of trial over.
- 3:58 p.m. Hosack is struggling w/Dobslaf status. She’s legal federally. But he isn’t sure she’s legal as far as a state voter goes. Ultimately, he rules that Dobslaf is a legal voter and that her vote will not be stricken.
- 3:53 p.m. Dobslaf, from Canada, tells court that she may have voted for Kennedy, but she’s not sure.
- 3:18 p.m. Voter Denise Dobslaf is testifying via Skype.
- 2:51 p.m. Kelso is making a motion to amend his complaint (which is denied), and Peter Erbland follows with a motion to dismiss the case (which is also denied).
- 2:29 p.m. Defense counsel Peter Erbland is now making a rebuttal.
- 2:28 p.m. Kelso is saying there’s no proof re: number of ballots that went through election machine. He is citing many different numbers that have been bandied about.
- 2:23 p.m. Kelso is reviewing testimony by former elections chief Deedie Beard and Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst to try to prove fraud and malconduct.
- 1:03 p.m. (We interrupt trial coverage to bring you this report): Jim Brannon was following Hucks Online on his cell phone about 90 minutes ago & Larry Spencer was following this blog on his laptop about 15 minutes ago.
- 12:46 p.m. Hosack just said to Kelso: “I’ve heard so much of this questioning that I can’t take it any more.”
- 12:31 p.m. Kelso had ‘just a few quick questions’ for Beard.’ That was a half hour ago.
- 12:10 p.m. Ex-elections department chief Deedie Beard is called back to the stand to answer a few questions re: outside voters.
- 12:07 p.m. Attorneys are stipulating to evidence to shorten things up and to avoid calling a bunch of witnesses.
- AM coverage here
I’m going to publish John “Witch Hunt” Cafferty’s fashion report separately today because he truly is the talk of the courtroom (at least on the non-Brannon side) today: Berry Picker describes Cafferty as “possibly the most stylishly chic man in the room as he is sporting a French style suit with three buttons and asymmetrical pockets.Two slanted pockets on the right and one slanted pocket on the left. Tie appears to be a subtle green and blue floral pattern. Shoes are double seamed square toe black leather. Even Kennedy was overheard commenting on Cafferty’s fashion sense. Cafferty is so well dressed that it appears he might be trolling for fashion report props and he has succeeded.”
DFO: Can someone get a photo of John “Witch Hunt” Cafferty for Hucks Online.
- 12:02 p.m. Court back in session.
- 11:10 a.m. Judge Hosack calls a recess.
- 10:48 a.m. Zellars tells the court that she had the wrong ballot. But she can’t remember how she voted in Brannon-Kennedy race. She says she always votes Democratic — to which Erbland asks whether she saw any party on the ballot. She responds, no.
- 10:40 a.m. Rehana Zellars is now on video feed live.
- 10:27 a.m. Matt Kelso is setting up teleconference with voter Rehana Zellars — and having technical difficulties.
- Much more below
Item: Search for votes nears end: Brannon election challenge trial could finish today as voters testify/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press
More Info: Four witnesses living in Canada and one living in California were called as witnesses but weren’t in the courtroom. A pair of witnesses, living in Kootenai County and Coeur d’Alene, were called to testify but were not in the courtroom. They will be called again today.
Question: Do you think this trial will end today?
A Berry Picker provides the following fashion report from 4th day of Brannon Election Trial:
- Her Sandiness: So Sandy. Smart black pants with black shirt accented with a white scarf. She jazzed it up with a red denim jacket. Black sandals for footwear with a slight heel. Classy. Classy.
- Mike Kennedy: a grey pinstripe suit with a complimentary purple shirt and tie combination. The purple is a good reminder of how red and blue blends to make a beautiful non-partisan color.
- Dan English: a nice sweater vest covers his ever evaporating being.
- Mary Souza: A plum velveted jacket matched with black velveted pants. She’s dressed very nice a la Mayor Bloem but let’s face it: she’s no Mayor Bloem.
- Sharon Culbreath: brightly colored Notice Me floral jacket is the only thing warming the room. If you stare closely at it, you forget how boring the trial is.
- Christa Hazel: brown Capri slacks with green shirt and brown courderoy jacket. She’s accented this with fabulous leopard print ballet flats and an elephant bracelet on her right wrist.
- Kathy Simms: dark wash denim. Similar to the Not Your Mom Jeans brand sold at Sandra Kays in town. She has topped it with a white chenille bedspread repurposed into jacket. The verdict is in: denim style jackets of various cloth types are chic in CdA.
- Larry Spencer: dressed again in his grey suit. The Superman curl is perfectly coiffed with very stiff hair gel. His two toned brown boat shoes are a nice touch. Again.
- Judge Hosack: black robe makes him look smart and comfy. So comfy that he’s the only one in the room propping his head up with his hand. He exudes sheer boredom and irritation.
- 4:59 p.m. Yvonne Knittle of Lake City Billing is on the stand.
- 4:35 p.m. Defense counsel Peter Erbland agrees that Ronald Prior and Susan Harris, husband and wife, weren’t qualified to vote in 2009 election. But the two who testified this afternoon couldn’t remember how they voted.
- 4:06 p.m. Voter Ronald Prior is now on the witness stand.
- 3:21 p.m. The word “plethora” has been used. But Kelso pronounced it pleth-ORA instead of PLETH-ora as it is usually heard.
- 3:12 p.m. Hosack admonishes Kelso — Says his questions to Deedie Beard have “absolutely no relevance. We are talking about the city election and this has nothing at all to do with that.” Argument has ensued and Kelso has lost his temper.
- 2:51 p.m. Deedie Beard is back on the stand. Kelso is treating her calmly with some respect. She’s exceedingly knowledgable.
- 2:46 p.m. Julie Chadderdon wins the award for fastest testimony. She voted in a consolidated precinct voting place, was handed a CdA city ballot by the poll worker, realized it wasn’t a Fernan ballot (she lives in Fernan), and turned it back in. The poll worker apologized and gave her the Fernan ballot. Julie she voted the right ballot. Her testimony took longer than the mistake, and her testimony was about 30 seconds.
- 1:53 p.m. Gary Ingram has jolted himself awake again.
- 1:45 p.m. Kelso’s questioning is so riveting that Gary Ingram is completely asleep, head on his chest, and beginning to snore
- 1:20 p.m. Former county elections clerk Deedie Beard is on the stand.
- 11:41 a.m. Via Larry Spencer: “What Mike (Gridley) apparently said to Kelso, according to the court record, was that if he had more questions, he should shove them up his …”
- Other AM trial notes below
Mr. Bloggy: This entire travesty, this carnival of horror, this pool-slide into the dark, squalid underbelly of small town politics, just reeks of such a loathsome lusting for power, such an unwillingness of accept the word of the people, to lawyer up on a broken old nag of a justice system that it is like walking into the police chief’s office in Mayberry, RFD and seeing ole Andy dressed in black stiletto heels, black fishnet hose with whore-red garters attached to his latex and metal stud black bustier, a big scarlet wig, thick harlottish mascara, purple metalflake lipstick and he’s sitting on the naked back of poor Barney Fife who has a horse bit jammed in his mouth and reins held high above him in the left fingernail polished hand of Andy while his right whips a German riding crop on a yowling Barney’s right buttock and over in the corner …. omg … and over in the corner is Floyd the Barber dressed in a Sea Lion costume and smearing raspberry jam all over his face and ears while singing in a horrifying voice songs from The Barber of Seville. Make.it.stop.mommy. I’m.scared.
Question: Does the Brannon election challenge have a Mayberry RFD feel to it?
RE: Soldier loses vote in Brannon case/DFO, Huckleberries Online
Dan of the County: I know this has been brought out before, but feel it needs to be mentioned again on behalf of Sgt. Major Proft that he provided our office with written directions from the Secretary of State’s Office that he should tell our office that he was instructed to use the Courthouse address since he no longer owned his home in Post Falls. However, he still intended to be a Kootenai County voter as is his right under the Federal Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Voting Act. The Secretary of State has since clarified that he should have been told to use his old address in Post Falls anyway. That has since been corrected in our records even before this year’s primary election.
Question: What do you make of this development in the Brannon trial?