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, December 11, 2006

Hiding the Public Record ... In Plain Sight

My December 8, 2006, post titled Is the Public Record Accurate? revealed that the Coeur d'Alene City Council had conducted city business in secret and agreed to ratify its illegal conduct at the next Council meeting. Specifically, on or about October 13, 2006, City Council members were contacted individually by telephone and asked to authorize a permit for a fireworks display at a November 3 high school football game. A majority of Council members contacted agreed. They also agreed to ratify their action at the November 7 City Council meeting, four days after the event for which the permit was to be issued.

The Coeur d'Alene City Council's secret action deprived the public of an opportunity raise timely objection to the use of explosives on school grounds in close proximity to private residences in Coeur d'Alene Place. This kind of secret deliberation and voting is what the Idaho Open Meeting Law was designed to prevent.

The method the City Council used to ratify its illegal action at a later Council meeting should also be scrutinized. The ratification vote was not a separate agenda item. It was included in the Council's Consent Calendar. The agenda for the Council meeting contains this preamble before the Consent Calendar items to be considered:

CONSENT CALENDAR: Being considered routine by the City Council, these items will be enacted by one motion unless requested by a Councilman or a citizen that one or more items be removed for later discussion.
Perhaps the Council considered ratifying an illegal action to be "routine," but I didn't. At the November 7, 2006, Council meeting I requested the proposed permit ratification be removed from the Consent Calendar and considered at a later meeting. As noted in the indented preamble above, that was my right. Note, too, that any one of the Council members present could also have made the request. I was not at all surprised when the Council unanimously (with Councilman Edinger absent) chose to ignore my request. Having been caught violating the Idaho Open Meeting Law, they would hardly want their actions to be publicly scrutinized at another Council meeting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are they thinking?

4:52 PM, December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Bob Stebbins-Stibitz said...

"The people cannot be all, and always, well-informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty."
--Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787. ME 6:372,

Thanks for bringing this to our attention Bill. This demonstrates yet one more slap in the public's face. I wonder if anyone will wake-up?

Ohhh... I wondered what TJ might have said, and thought the above quote fitting.

2:29 AM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Anonymous and Bob,

Thank you both for reading and posting your comments.

Aside from the fact our mayor and city council are knowingly violating the law, and aside from the fact our county prosecutor has no interest in pursuing open meeting law violations, the thing that bothers me the most is this: If our mayor and city council are willing to conduct the city's business in secret on something as trivial as a fireworks display permit (not that it was trivial when the explosions shook the homes in our neighborhood), why should we believe they won't conduct the public's business in secret when the criminally corrupt influence of big money or higher political office is waved in front of them? If they don't have the character and integrity to resist pressure from a local businessman when he wants to sponsor an extremely inappropriate event at a high school football game, why would we believe they can or will want to withstand pressure from racketeering influenced corrupt organizations?

6:23 AM, December 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who was the local businessman who put pressure on the council for the fireworks?

7:03 AM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Here's a link to the Coeur d'Alene Fire Prevention Bureau Office form and the Coeur d'Alene City Clerk's Office form. To get some better insight into what happened, you may want to pay the City's $30 fee as I did and get a copy of the City Council Meeting DVD of the November 7 meeting. Of course, if you're already a city councilman, you can probably get it for free.

7:47 AM, December 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, What are your thoughts in regards to what we as citizens can do to rid ourselves of these corrupt officials? As you know party politics plays a hugh role in all of this.

11:11 AM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Let me clarify my answer to your earlier question about the local businessman who put pressure...

I did not mean to imply that his "pressure" was in any way illegal or even wrong. In my opinion anyone who applies for a permit that may be denied for cause and who explains what the permit is for (why it should be granted) is applying pressure to the adjudicating body. In his case, the Coeur d'Alene Fire Department and the Municipal Services Department failed him by failing to advise him of the need for a blasting permit, and they failed the rest of us because they didn't do their jobs. I do wonder why the Council thought it was worth violating the Idaho Open Meeting Law to approve a permit that should have been denied.


I'm not yet ready to characterize the Coeur d'Alene mayor and city council as corrupt. "Corruption" implies serious criminal misconduct involving soliciting or accepting a bribe or gratuity or something else of value. As far as getting rid of elected officials, they can be recalled (as was Mayor Jim West in Spokane) or they can be elected out. In the November 2007 elections in Coeur d'Alene, Reid, Hassell, and Edinger are the incumbents. Of course, not all of them may run.

2:42 PM, December 12, 2006  

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