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Hucks: Councilman Changes Tone

Coeur d’Alene City Councilman Dan Gookin recovered well from a recent political faux pas. Gookin, an outspoken critic of proposed changes to McEuen Field, offered verbal balm to the town a day after the recall petition drive against Mayor Sandi Bloem and three council members failed. At the Tuesday council meeting, Gookin said he told recall allies that “it’s over” and insisted that they file no lawsuits to extend the controversy. Gookin said he was ready to move forward with the McEuen Field work and promised to bird-dog spending on the $14.2 million project. His conciliatory tone contrasted sharply to the angry email he fired off to City Administrator Wendy Gabriel (Huckleberries, June 17), belittling her for accidentally leaving him out of the loop in a media announcement about a proposed McEuen Field compromise (for which Gookin later apologized three times). Gabriel wasn’t present Tuesday when Gookin remarked that the public accuses the council of not listening when it is/DFO, HucksOnline. More here.

Gissel Warns Re: Hostile Environment

Although he never mentioned Councilman Dan Gookin by name or his dust-up with City Administrator Wendy Gabriel, Coeur d'Alene attorney Norm Gissel warned City Council members to avoid creating a hostile work environment for staff. Speaking during the public comments period of the council meeting Tuesday, Gissel, a long-time leader in the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, said: "All of you have an affirmative duty to make sure none of you harass staff." On Thursday, Gookin fired off an email to Gabriel in which he belittled her for failing to alert him before a story appeared on the Coeur d'Alene Press Web site that Team McEuen had proposed a change to boat-trailer parking in the McEuen Field upgrade. Gissel recommended that council members  "get ahold of counsel and review matters pertaining to a hostile environment."

Thoughts?

Mary Defends Dan’s Meltdown

On the Coeur d'Alene Press Online thread Friday afternoon, Mary Souza was busy defending Councilman Dan Gookin's email outburst at City Administrator Wendy Gabriel that was originally printed at Huckleberries Online: "Dan is unveiling the culture of intimidation at city hall, and he's doing it with a bold dose of humor. Look at the problem: Dan is an ELECTED city council member. Elected by the people of this city to represent them. Yet a major decision was made yesterday at a non-public meeting of Team McEuen, where the only council member present was Mike Kennedy. It was a decision that changed an item the city council voted on last month, but Dan and the other council members were not informed, they had to read about it in the Press online. That's not good management. And this was not the first time these kinds of things have been kept from the other council members.Who's running this city anyway? Is it our elected representatives or is it a small group of powerful insiders pulling the strings? So now the Mayor and Wendy are pointing fingers at Dan? Ha. They are showing poor leadership and management of our city. Dan is standing up for his responsibility as our elected representative on the council. Thank you Dan!"

Question: Did Mary know that Dan had apologized profusely re: his email to City Administrator Wendy Gabriel? So what happened here? Did he exhibit a "bold dose of humor"? Or boorish behavior? And what would Mary be saying if Councilman Mike Kennedy had sent that email to a city employee?

Gookin: But I Apologized

Dan Gookin filed this comment in the SR.com online thread under my Huckleberries column (re: Huckleberries: Councilman mighty testy over early news report/DFO): If Oliveria honestly wanted to report about me, he would have discovered that I apologized to Ms. Gabriel less than an hour after the email was sent. I drove to City Hall and explained that the email was inappropriate and disrespectful. Ms. Gabriel acknowledged my apology, but insisted that I had every right to be “pissed.” Even so, I apologized an additional two times. Oliveria’s pro-status-quo agenda in Coeur d’Alene is well-known. He consistently derides me as a lesser member of the City Council, a “Neanderthal,” and with other immature, name-calling attacks. It is obvious to me and many others that he is actively promoting only one side of City Government in Coeur d’Alene. Caveat lector.

DFO: H/T to Green Libertarian for pointing this out to me in the comments section. I find this comment by Councilman Gookin odd because Gookin interacted with Huckleberries Online and me Friday afternoon, saying nothing about an apology. I appreciate that he did apologize to City Administrator Wendy Gabriel for his nasty email. He was completely out of order in slamming City Administrator Wendy Gabriel the way he did. BTW, you notice how Dan's trying to make this about me rather than his own action?

Thoughts?

Gookin Responds To HBO Post

Moments ago, Councilman Dan Gookin copied the following email to Mayor Sandi Bloem, City Administrator Wendy Gabriel, City Clerk Susan Weathers, Councilman Steve Adams, City Attorney Mike Gridley, Editor Mike Patrick of the Coeur d'Alene Press, Mary Souza & yours truly:

So yet another time, an email sent at City Hall suddenly, and unexplainably, ends up being specifically requested by Dave Oliveria at the Spokesman’s HBO blog. I know that I’ve discussed these “leaks” with you before and each of you has scratched your head, wondering who the staff person or elected official is who is passing along the information. My guess – and this is just a guess – is that the status quo crowd is behind this covert operation to make the “Save McEuen” councilmen look bad. Or, perhaps, it’s just dirty CdA politics being played out, as it always has been. Or it could be that someone is just not used to having head-nodders as councilmen. What. Ever. So I think, in the name of transparency, that I will now start automatically carbon copying Dave on all the emails I send to City Hall. All of them. More below.

Thoughts?

Gookin Blasts Gabriel For Story

Speaking of Gookin, Huckleberries Online has received, via a public information request, an email that he sent to City Administrator Wendy Gabriel, pictured, chastizing her for not giving him a heads up on that McEuen Field announcement Thursday — you know, the one about a possible compromise for boat-trailer parking. City officials are suppose to provide the mayor and council members a heads up in such instances. And Wendy had told a Coeur d'Alene Press reporter not to post his story before she alerted city officials, including Gookin. But the Press inadvertently jumped the gun (for which Editor Mike Patrick properly and commendably apologized to Wendy in writing. Also, Patrick just posted this on his Web site here). Here's the note Gookin fired off to Wendy:

"I find it telling that I have to learn of this move through the Press website and not from City Hall. In fact, it pisses me off. Who is in charge? Are you in charge? Do you ever plan on telling ALL of the council these things are will there be a continuing pattern of my learning about changes at City Hall through the blogs and newspapers? Isn’t there a big sign right outside your office that says, “Have we informed the council?” Can you read? This move doesn’t make me think too highly of your administrative and communications skills.

Thoughts?

Gookin’s Complaint Brings Response

City Administrator Wendy Gabriel provided this response to Councilman Gookin's complaint about a critical letter to the Coeur d'Alene Press editor from Arts Commission Chairwoman Eden Irgens:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  However, I think we should be careful about going there. Has Jeff Connaway, Chair of the City’s Sign Board, disgraced and disrespected the Mayor and three Council members by his signature on the petition in favor of a recall?  How is his signature on a public document in favor of a recall accusing the Mayor and three Council members of wrongdoing any different than a Letter to the Editor accusing you of wrong doing? Has Kathy Sims who represents the citizens of CdA disgraced and disrespected the citizens of Cd’A by her signature on the recall petition?  The citizens of CdA voted for the Mayor and the three Council members and Sims now wants them recalled.  She has expressed her views in several public venues. More below.

Thoughts?

Gookin Complains About Press Letter

Councilman Dan Gookin sent the following letter to City Administrator Wendy Gabriel complaining about a letter to the editor of the Coeur d'Alene Press from Eden Irgens, who chairs the city's Art Commission: "A citizen has pointed out a concern to me. I understand that there's a lot of political B.S. floating around out there, but Mr. Irgens has written a letter to the Editor, published in today's CDA Press, wherein she states, "I personally cannot trust [Councilman Gookin] now." I've learned that Ms. Irgens is chair of the City's Arts Commission. I find it disturbing that the City would allow or tolerate a committee member, let alone a committee chair, to publicly criticize a councilman in that way. In know that Ms. Irgens has every right to criticize me as an elected official, and I would encourage anyone to express their rights to criticize the government. But this situation presents an incongruity I'd like to address. More below.

DFO: Eden Irgens is a woman, BTW.

Question: Should a member of a Coeur d'Alene city committee be prevented from writing letters to a newspaper or speaking openly re: opposition to a City Council member?

Gookin Rips City For Edinger Dustup

On his campaign blog site, Coeur d'Alene City Council candidate Dan Gookin spotlights the current dustup involving nepotism charges against Councilman Ron Edinger. Gookin criticizes city officials rather than Edinger for the problem. Gookin isn't running for Edinger's seat: "This episode with Mr. Edinger isn’t about him as much as it’s about the failure of City staff to do their jobs. There’s also a responsibility for follow-through by the City Council to provide oversight and accountability. The article mentions city employees who apparently were supposed to know and follow the law: City Attorney Mike Gridley (next year’s salary $125,000) and Chief Administrator Wendy Gabriel ($123,000). The article should have also included the City’s Human Resource director, Pam MacDonald ($112,000). I would assume, based on their high level of pay ($360,000), and the continuing praises lavished upon staff by the incumbent council, that these City employees are all doing a super job. Apparently not." More here.

Question: Who is most to blame for the problem? Edinger? Bloem administration? Other?

Gabriel Replies To Adams’ Claim

I received this note from City Administrator Wendy Gabriel moments ago: "This morning, Steve Adams, Coeur d’Alene City Council Candidate, said in a Pachyderm meeting held at Jonsey’s that he requested to attend my  individual department head meetings regarding the 2011-12 budget.  He said that I stated he could not attend, and that I stated only union members were allowed to attend.  His statement is not true.  Attached is my emailed response to him. " Click here.

Gabriel Challenges City Pay Figures

City Administrator Wendy Gabriel (pictured) offered this response to an earlier post today re: Coeur d'Alene city salaries: "Your blog has a link to a document titled “Some of Coeur d’Alene’s Highest Paid Employees*”.  The City did not prepare this report although it appears to be a compilation of data that the City has provided in the past. Attached to this email and titled 2009-2010 Actual Pay is a document that was sent to the Idaho Freedom Foundation on May 12, 2011.  It includes pay for the period 10/1/2009 through 9/30/2010.  The data in this document appears to be shown in the document on your blog under column 4 titled “2010 Salary." Attached to this email and titled 2011-12 Budgeted Pay is a document that was provided to Sharon Culbreth on Sept. 13, 2011.  It is a list of projected pay for the upcoming fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2011 and ending Sept. 30, 2012.  It includes a 3% cost of living increase and any eligible service time/performance increases.  This data appears to be shown in the document on your blog under column 3 titled “2011 Salary”. I have several concerns regarding the document currently posted on your blog.  They are outlined below." More here.

Stimulus money for law enforcement

More than $1.5 million in federal money is being offered to law enforcement agencies in Spokane and Kootenai counties for new equipment, training or personnel.

The money, part of the economic stimulus package, was added to an existing program known as the Edward Byrne Justice Assistant Grants, which is designed to get more police on the street, more training and equipment to agencies, and more help for crime victims, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said.

The White House is promising to review all requests and approve or reject them within two weeks, a Cantwell spokeswoman said.

The program divides the money between states and local governments. Under its formula, the City of Spokane will be available to request more than $824,000, Spokane Valley $207,600 and Spokane County almost $195,000.