Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, October 10, 2005

We've Been Let Down

James Hagengruber's excellent article headlined Builders ignore rules at lakes in The Spokesman-Review pointed out the harm that resulted from Kootenai County's failure to aggressively enforce applicable laws.

Laws (including codes and ordinances) amount to a social contract between government and its citizens. The county's part of that contract is to consistently and impartially enforce the laws in a timely way to provide us with a reasonable level of protection from harm. It isn't enough to just pass the laws that say, "You can't" or "You must" and then penalize offenders after the damage has been done. The county has a duty to enforce laws quickly, fairly, and consistently to prevent irreparable harm whenever possible. Understanding their obligation to be proactive and not just reactive appears to have eluded some Kootenai County government officials.

In the Peterman - Design Services Northwest case highlighted in Hagengruber's article, Kootenai County reportedly gave repeated notices of violation to the landowner and contractor. Even though those notices were obviously being willfully ignored, it wasn't until after the land had been grievously damaged that the county decided to react assertively. What took so long?

According to Kootenai County planner George Evjen, halting the work of a noncompliant contractor or landowner is a "long, drawn-out process."

Really? How long does it take Kootenai County to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) and have it served and enforced by the sheriff's department?

After observing that violations producing irreparable damage were being committed, Kootenai County building and planning director Rand Whichman was obligated to seek a TRO or other available immediate remedy. If that didn't happen, why not? If it did and if the prosecutor's office declined to act, then why? Someone in county government owes the rest of us some honest answers so we can hold the right people accountable.


Anonymous Ron said...

I could not agree more with you. Time and time again the affluent get what they want with blatent disregard for everyone else. A slap on the wrist, a small fine means nothing to them. They must be made accountable, and their violations made a priority for prosecution. Why does it always seem to be the violaters are from somewhere else?

9:01 AM, October 10, 2005  

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