State Rep. Carol Pietsch has taken a nasty swipe at the Bonner County commissioners, accusing the three of not doing their jobs and threatening a recall.
“You are, it appears, commissioners who do not know what your job entails,” Pietsch, D-Sandpoint, said in a four-page letter to her fellow Democrats.
The freshman legislator said commissioners have ignored problems and dawdled on rewriting the county land use plan. She called for a moratorium on growth in the entire county and Sandpoint, mainly due to concern about waste treatment facilities.
She cited a need for a sewer system in Hope and upgrades to a plant in Priest River and a sewage lagoon in Cocolalla. Pietsch also chided commissioners for not having a typed priority list of what needs to be done in the county.
“This is a threat,” Pietsch said in her letter. “If I have to, I will get help to circulate petitions that will recall you one at a time, with a great deal of help from fellow Democrats.”
Commissioners, two of whom have been in office only four months, were stunned by Pietsch’s attack.
“The wording of the letter was quite a surprise, especially the recall part,” said commission chairman Dale VanStone.
“The accusations that we are not doing anything are entirely inappropriate and her attack is unjustified. I think she has overstepped her bounds.”
The letter was out of character for Pietsch, said VanStone, adding that the legislator was “mixed up” about some of the issues.
Commissioner Steve Klatt also said Pietsch’s tactic was unusual, and spiteful.
“I have watched Bonner County struggle for two years because of personality conflicts and juxtaposition for center stage. I do not want to see myself involved in the same thing I’ve cringed at,” he said.
Commissioners and others are worried Pietsch is driving a wedge into county politics and the local Democratic party.
“There is no explanation for it,” VanStone said of Pietsch’s letter. “The word party members are using right now for Carol is concerned.”
Democratic Central Committee Chairman Bill O’Donnell said he is trying to arrange a meeting of party members, Pietsch and commissioners to resolve the spat.
“I think there was a heated exchange that maybe got out of hand. Then, the letter came out probably before enough thought was put into it,” O’Donnell said.
Since she returned from Boise, Pietsch has complained about everything from a historic mill site being used as a party place for teenagers, to the sale of City Hall.
Pietsch said she carries around a list of issues called her “war list.”
She discussed some of her concerns with commissioners last month, but the group did not see eye-to-eye with her on the issues.
“They wanted to argue with me over problems,” Pietsch said.
“They made me angry that they had to take this defensive position with me.”
Klatt said the main argument was because Pietsch demanded the commissioners pass a moratorium on growth.
Although Pietsch never meant her letter to go public, she said she doesn’t regret writing it.
“The phone calls I’ve received from people are saying maybe we do need to get them (the commissioners),” she said. “I think there are some concerns we may need to look at.”
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