Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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?
COEUR d'ALENE - Judicial confirmation, election, back to judicial confirmation, and deadlines looming all the while.
With wastewater treatment issues in the news recently - and how the city plans to pay for them - the city public information officer caught up with Wastewater Superintendent Sid Fredrickson to go over the ins and outs of the $33.5 million in upgrades the facility in the education corridor will undergo.
The project will happen, and after some back and forth, the city secured funding through a judge's ruling that said the project is ordinary and necessary and voter approval isn't required to take on debt to pay for it.
What will the $33.5 million fund?
A new filtration system that will reduce the level of phosphorus that is discharged into the Spokane River.
Why do you need to reduce phosphorous levels?
The Environmental Protection Agency says there is a high level of phosphorus in the Spokane River. As a result, it is requiring all dischargers along the river to reduce phosphorus going into the river. Dischargers must implement a third level (tertiary) of advanced wastewater treatment to filter out the phosphorus. Full story. CdA Press
- H/T: Coeur d'Alene TV Channel 19, for providing video
Question: Any thoughts about Adams' prepared statement?
The election is off. Coeur d'Alene City Councilman Steve Adams said he will withdraw his pledge to appeal a judge's ruling that green-lights major upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, meaning the city will secure roughly $33.5 million for the project through a judicial confirmation after all. It also means the May 21 election will be called off. Adams said Tuesday evening he was satisfied with 1st District Judge John Luster's decision issued hours before the City Council meeting that declared the project was “ordinary and necessary,” and voter approval to secure the debt obligation wasn't required/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: So why did Adams say “uncle”?
It could go to a vote. Coeur d'Alene's legal department said Wednesday it's recommending the city hold an election to get approval to pay for up to $36.3 million worth of federally mandated improvements to its wastewater treatment plant — a move that comes in response to one councilman's pledge to tie the matter up in court if the city didn't ask voters. Staff has crafted a proposed bond ordinance that it will ask the City Council to approve during a special meeting at noon today that would put the issue before voters on May 21. It means the council could decide on whether to hold an election on wastewater treatment plant upgrades before it even knows the fate of its judicial confirmation — the way it originally sought to secure the money to pay for the project/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
DFO: This might be the day that Judge John Luster rules that the federally mandated sewer plant expansion is a necessary expense, not requiring a public vote.
Question: Has anyone called Councilman Steve Adams to inform him that he represents more people than just the OpenCDA.com crowd in this matter?
I wasn't able to post the audio of Councilman Steve Adams' 911 call until late yesterday afternoon — you know, the one claiming that City Attorney Mike Gridley had threatened him after the City Council meeting Tuesday. It's definitely worth a full day of discussion today. You can read the actual text of that discussion here.
The lone city councilman who opposes the city's request for a judicial confirmation said his opposition to the issue earned him threats from the mayor and city attorney following a meeting late Tuesday - claims the two officials deny. Steve Adams, the second-year councilman who opposes paying for $33 million in upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, said City Attorney Mike Gridley told Adams to “(bleep) off” following the four-hour meeting and Mayor Sandi Bloem said she wanted to punch the councilman's nose off. “For the City Attorney to verbally assault me, twice now, with inflammatory and derogatory comments, is a violation of his attorney code of ethics and, according to the city's personnel rules, is insubordination,” Adams stated in a press release, calling for Gridley's termination and an apology from Bloem. Bloem and Gridley said they didn't threaten the second-year councilman/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: How do you think this is going to play out?
Possible change of course. The city of Coeur d'Alene is considering asking voters for approval for millions of dollars in upgrades for its wastewater treatment plant instead of getting the go-ahead from a judge because of one councilman's pledge to tie up the matter in court. The City Council voted 4 to 2 Tuesday for staff to begin crafting what language on the ballot could look like if the city should send the issue to ballot in May. A couple months ago, the city unanimously sought a judicial confirmation that would allow the city to spend at least $33 million in upgrades to the plant in light of stricter federal discharge requirements. But Councilman Steve Adams - who voted in favor of the judicial confirmation - reversed his stance about a month ago and said he would appeal 1st District Judge John Luster's decision should Luster rule in favor of the city/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
DFO: This reckless action by Councilman Adams could cost the city $1 million per month in EPA fines and lead to a moratorium on sewer hook-ups, stopping the resurgence of the local housing industry. Also, it could lead to sewer fees in five years of $70 per month. It was amazing to watch Adams stubbornly shrug off those warnings from the city attorney and wastewater treatment manager last night.
What’s the latest on the dust up between City Attorney Mike Gridley and Councilman Steve Adams (pictured) following Tuesday’s public disagreement? A letter, no reply, and the Councilman still considering filing a complaint or two. Adams said this week he still hasn’t retained an attorney as he continues to consider filing a complaint against the city and Gridley stemming from when the City Council voted to remove Adams from legal discussions surrounding the judicial confirmation the city is seeking — a legal stance Adams opposes. “I’m being blackballed,” Adams said this week. He sent a two page letter to Gridley Friday asking Gridley to explain why HE considered Adams “an adverse party” and where in the rules it says the councilman should be excluded from the legal discussions. … Gridley told The Press he’s not going to respond/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.
Question: Should Gridley respond to Adams?