Whitecaps

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

Name:
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.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Use the Kroc Center

Monday in a Spokane newspaper blog, Coeur d'Alene's junior councilman Mike Kennedy posted an item about warming centers. He likes them. So now he's going to task the city staff to reinvent the wheel and figure out how to have warming centers for needy people during the winter. In other words, he wants the City to officially waive some of the life-safety codes that protect the very people he's trying to help.

Apparently Councilman Kennedy just realized that (1) there are homeless people in Coeur d'Alene (don't tell Mayor Sandi - acknowledging that doesn't sit well with her); (2) winters here are cold; and (3) the City Council just might be able to use this issue to deflect public attention away from how its urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corporation (LCDC), has been enriching the "impoverished" local millionaire developers but hasn't quite figured out how to do anything for the genuinely needy. Like keeping them from suffering in the streets from hypothermia and malnutrition. (There's no profit in human blight and deterioration.)

Rather than having city staff move with its usual glacial speed and stretching this idea out for as long as possible, here's my solution: Once the Mayor has declared the emergency, open the doors to the Kroc Center, put Salvation Army cots and blankets in the community room, fire up the kitchen and serve the people hot meals, and give them towels and access to the showers. The Kroc Center is properly zoned and presumably will meet all applicable city and life-safety codes.

How could the Salvation Army possibly refuse an opportunity to use its facility to help truly desperate people, maybe even save their lives? The Army's mission includes meeting human needs in Christ's name without discrimination. It's certainly a more important and benevolent use for the building than just providing a lap pool, a basketball court, and a climbing wall. Use Citylink buses to transport the people to the Kroc Center.

Now, let the city staff find something else to do.

16 Comments:

Blogger DanG said...

The City receives a kickback, er, "franchise fee" from Avista, a fee that rises with Avista's rates. Why not use some of that to reimburse local churches and charitable organizations that provide warming centers? Instead of looking to government first for solutions, we need to find helpful, affordable, and private solutions. Only when those solutions do not or cannot exist, does government need to swagger in with its inefficiency and waste.

11:21 AM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

dang,

The City gets franchise fees from Kootenai Electric and Time/Warner Cable as well.

My only concern about using some existing structures (church buildings, etc.) is they may not meet life-safety codes if their use is extended beyond their present use. The city's code enforcement is bad at best, but I'd hate for the city to go into the Church of What's Happenin' Now and tell that church it had to cough up kilobucks to bring its building into compliance so it could help people who really need it. Since the Kroc Center is privately owned, will have superior facilities for emergency lodging, and will presumably be built in compliance with all applicable codes, it seemed like a logical recommendation. I wouldn't limit its use to just cold-weather emergencies, either. It could be used for mass evacuations necessitated by fire, flood, famine, pestilence, voter revolts, etc.)

11:42 AM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

If nothing more this would be a great fall back use when memberships don't sell because the families who most need them can't afford them (and can't get there anyway because both parents work) and groups that already have facilities for their theatrical productions, conferences, etc., don't switch allegiance.

Maybe those "kickbacks" would help ease the financial burden on those of us NOT in CDA who will inherit it.

2:43 PM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Starr Kelso said...

Bill, Bill, me lad, you are incorrigible. Keep it up!

5:07 PM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Starr,

I just picked up Lukas' "Big Trouble" from the KSAL library. Big book, small print, aging eyes. It's gonna be a long read. Looks interesting, though.

5:11 PM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Starr Kelso said...

Yep, don't try to go fast. Maybe even recheck it out. If you get through the first 100 pages it moves a lot better. There is an enormous amount of ground work that is laid in those first 100. There is so much in the book that it deserves a slow and thoughtful read.

8:49 PM, March 27, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the city supposed to do before the Krock Center opens?

12:27 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

anonymous,

Until the Kroc Center is open and available, my suggestion to the City would be to identify specific buildings that are willing to be used as warming centers. Require the fire department to complete a full-blown life safety inspection of each facility to ensure it is safe for public residential occupancy. That should be required of shelters as well as "warming centers" (however that differs from a shelter?). Require the fire department to publicly certify buildings as meeting all appropriate codes (such as the International Fire Code which the City has adopted). The structures should not be grandfathered. If they are not already fully code compliant, they should be required to be brought fully up to code before they are certified safe for occupancy.

I would absolutely require the Mayor to issue a formal declaration of emergency, regardless of whether there are any waivers or not. That makes the Mayor responsible and accountable for waiving the city life safety ordinances if that’s what s/he does.

I suspect someone will question the wisdom or need for code compliance just to get warm and maybe spend the night. Here's why it's important.

The City of Coeur d'Alene has allowed "flop houses", unregulated rooming houses, to spring up in residential areas. When these have been brought to the City's attention, it dragged its administrative feet as long as it could to avoid taking action to enforce the City's ordinances already in place to protect lawful residents. This proposal for warming centers, though benevolent on its surface, also has the potential to allow existing shelters and warming centers to evade the law intended to protect not only the facility's neighbors but also the very people it is trying to help.

1:39 PM, March 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't this stuff front page news?

7:59 PM, March 28, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Anonymous,

Well, it isn't terribly exciting stuff. The Spokesman-Review, a regional newspaper out of Spokane, WA, but with a Coeur d'Alene bureau, really doesn't have any interest in the Kroc Center or our local urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corporation. To get at the meat of the story requires digging deep into public records. The S-R does that in Spokane but not in CdA. My personal opinion is that the editor over here, Scott Maben, isn't particularly interested in it, nor is he willing to push for the reporters it would take to get to the bottom of the LCDC sewer system. The S-R is a lap dog, not a watchdog in CdA.

Our local newspaper, the Coeur d'Alene Press and its editor Mike Patrick, will do whatever its owner, Duane Hagedone, tells it to do. If exposing the corruption here benefits Hagedone, the Press will expose it. If not, it won't.

8:25 PM, March 28, 2007  
Anonymous stebbijo said...

I about spit my coffee out on this one.

You are running for commissioner next election, I hope. We need you. Oh, hell - run for governor. ;-)

3:54 PM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Stebbijo,

Thanks for the comment (though I apologize about being an almost-spit-causer -- I guess?).

To the best of my knowledge, at this point in time, I have no intention of running water.

4:52 PM, March 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The recent comments on the SR blog lead me to believe that the SR actively supports the LCDC activities Mary Souza is spotlighting and has an internal advocate preventing any hard reporting at that paper on the issues.

3:44 AM, March 30, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Anonymous,

You're correct on both counts. But it isn't just one advocate inside the Idaho office, there are at least two. I'm disappointed because I had really hoped that under Steve Smith, the S-R would at least search the public records, find the clear and obvious conflicts of interest and misconduct by some LCDC Commissioners, and report them factually, even if the S-R's editorial position differed.

The community still does depend on its newspapers. One poster on DFO's blog asked why, if there was any wrong doing by the LCDC, the whiners didn't go to the police. That's a good question.

Which police can be trusted? The Idaho State Police? Not likely after ISP Captain Clark Rollins felt it was necessary to give CdA City Administrator Wendy Gabriel a "heads up" phone call that someone had (horror of horrors) complained about the Kroc Center to him. Nope, can't trust the ISP to keep confidential conversations and sources' identities confidential.

Well, what about ol' Rocky and the boys and girls at Kay See Ess Dee? Remember Rocky's attempt to do the "Sam Grubbs Shuffle"? Yeah, I'd trust Watson and his command staff about as far as I can throw them.

What about Wendy Carpenter and the CdAPD? Wendy Carpenter was selected to be Chief because she was a dead-ender. She'd been nowhere except CdA, so with her limited knowledge, skills and abilities, she had nowhere else to go. Add in her age as a factor, and you have someone motivated to go along and get along. She was, therefore, the perfect chief for them. The Mayor and City Council wanted a chief who would be compliant and not too inquisitive or aggressive but bright enough to know to keep her mouth shut about some of the goings-on that would come to her attention. The last thing the Mayor and City Council wanted from Carpenter and fellow dead-enders in her command staff was any wave-makers, and their expectations have been fully met.

Okay, then, why not bring in the feds. That's easy. There has to be a violation of federal law before the federal agencies can come in. The feds in northern Idaho have barely enough resources to investigate clear and obvious federal violations. Look at how long it's taken the feds to dig into the University Place scandal in southern Idaho.

Nope, the people up here have to rely on the newspapers to commit the resources to dig out this story. Though the S-R has more resources to do it, it has less will.

6:55 AM, March 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, Denny Davis, is a lawyer whose lawfirm represents the Cowles Publishing Co. (Spokesman Review). Denny Davis sits on the board of directors of LCDC. Davis' office is a floor above DFO and the reporters. Is the picture getting clearer now?

4:30 PM, April 19, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Anonymous,

Thank you. Yes, I know Davis is a member in the Coeur d'Alene office of WKDT, however I have been unable to confirm he ever specifically did work on behalf of Cowles or any of its various enterprises. If you have specific information that shows he did work for Cowles in a way that would have given him some influence over news coverage, please let me know. It would be of great interest. Davis's bio suggests his political contacts and community background would make him a reasonable choice for LCDC.

7:50 PM, April 19, 2007  

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