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 29, 2007

LCDC - The Cancer in Coeur d'Alene

If you are a cancer survivor or if a friend or family member has it, you have learned that cancer develops when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Normal cells grow, divide, and die. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new abnormal cells. Cancer cells often travel to other body parts where they grow and replace normal tissue. If you understand that, you also understand how Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corporation or LCDC, operates.

Thoughtful, managed growth and development in any community is useful. When growth and development occur in balance and harmony with the community’s normal social, economic, and political forces, the community is a good place to live. People will be able to afford to live, have careers, and participate in their community. Many businesses will thrive, others will even expand, and some will close. That is normal.

But if growth and development are allowed to occur too quickly or without proper oversight, if they are unduly influenced by unnatural forces, they can stealthily but quickly rage out of control. That is the malignant influence LCDC has on Coeur d’Alene.

LCDC’s proponents proclaim that in the 1980’s and early 1990’s Coeur d’Alene was dying and never would have amounted to anything if it had not been for the LCDC. That is speculation, nothing more.

It is fair to say that without the LCDC’s abuse of urban renewal, the city’s growth and development would have been manageable and more orderly. Being an attractive lakeside city with hard-working imaginative citizens, it would have become a prosperous Coeur d’Alene, not the urbanized “Seattle d’Alene” it is becoming thanks to the LCDC’s and City Council’s love fest with unchecked growth and blind acceptance of unending expensive studies by out-of-state consultants. Coeur d’Alene is morphing into “Seattle d’Alene” as a result of cancerous growth promoted by LCDC and the City Council.

Regardless of where you live, if you receive a Kootenai County property tax bill that includes countywide taxing districts, your tax bill is higher because of the LCDC. For 24 years from each LCDC district’s date of creation the LCDC gets the tax increment, the amount of tax increase above its base value, of every taxable property in the huge LCDC districts. That money goes to the LCDC’s bank account.

Think about it: The LCDC says that taxing districts (e.g., School District 271) still get the money they need. If the taxing districts itemized on your tax bill still get the same amount of money, where does LCDC’s money come from unless the county’s total property tax revenues increase? It comes from us – all Kootenai County property tax payers. Regardless of where we live, if we pay property taxes in Kootenai County, we are paying more property taxes to make up for the increment that goes to Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, the LCDC, but we have no say about how that money is spent. Think of LCDC as a hidden taxing district in which you have no vote.

Like the cancer it is, LCDC wants to operate and enlarge without being noticed. LCDC’s executive director has been traveling trying to export LCDC’s brand of urban renewal to other communities in and out of Kootenai County. If he succeeds, any additional urban renewal agencies formed in Kootenai County will be additional hidden taxing districts on your property tax bill. To make up for the tax increment being taken by an urban renewal agency, Kootenai County property tax payers will pay more. If those communities allow LCDC’s cancerous form of urban renewal to take root, their businesses, their people, and their governments will be forever changed just as Coeur d’Alene is being changed.

Why hasn’t Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor and City Council stepped in to regulate LCDC’s actions and expansions? Why are they encouraging the LCDC to infect other communities? Why has the LCDC used your tax dollars to hire two lobbyists to protect its interests (not the taxpayers’ interests) in Boise?

The answer to all those questions is greed and power. Money is not inherently evil, but the unchecked greedy pursuit of it is. Money can buy the election results the LCDC and City Council want in order to perpetuate a governmental enterprise that uses taxpayer money to enrich the already rich while keeping any hope of control out of the hands of honest taxpayers. LCDC used your tax money to hire lobbyists to ensure the Idaho legislature does not change the existing urban renewal law so it can no longer be abused by the LCDC.

Voters trusted Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor and City Council to properly learn and understand the complexities of urban renewal and then to regulate and control the LCDC as the law requires. The voter’s trust in them was misplaced. They have failed us. The beneficial cells of legitimate urban renewal have been allowed to grow unchecked and become the LCDC cancer in “Seattle d’Alene”. It is time for a change to restore honesty, integrity, and diligence in Coeur d’Alene City Hall.

For over a year now a growing number of citizens have been trying to help Kootenai County taxpayers better recognize and understand the LCDC cancer that is infecting us. Three honorable and dedicated citizens have decided to become candidates for Coeur d’Alene city council. They are Dan Gookin, Jim Brannon, and Susie Snedaker. These three courageous and honest residents know they will be attacked viciously and personally for their commitment to expose the profiteering being perpetrated by the Mayor, the City Council, and the LCDC in "Seattle d’Alene." They know their campaigns will be competing against incumbents and candidates who will be well-funded by business interests who will pay whatever is necessary to keep control of Coeur d'Alene City Hall. Dan Gookin, Jim Brannon, and Susie Snedaker know their opponents will support candidates who are running not with any hope of winning but for the express purpose of drawing votes away from the honest candidates. Still they are willing to step forward in hopes of slowing the cancerous corruption of city government in Coeur d’Alene.

Cancer survivors know the disease is sometimes incurable. Indeed, attempts to cure the disease can kill the patient or ruin his quality of life. That’s why diligent, attentive management is often the treatment of choice. So it is with urban renewal in Coeur d’Alene. Dan Gookin, Jim Brannon, and Susie Snedaker want to work with us in Kootenai County to manage urban renewal so it is used wisely and lawfully to achieve the beneficial results intended by the Idaho legislature. They want to stop its malignant abuse by the LCDC and their cronies so that taxpayer dollars are used for public good, not private enrichment. Regardless of where you live, if you pay Kootenai County property taxes, encourage your friends in Coeur d’Alene to vote for Dan Gookin for council seat #1, Jim Brannon for council seat #3, and Susan P. “Susie” Snedaker for council seat #5 on November 6, 2007. They want to preserve the character of Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County.

Two of the candidates have websites. Go to www.dangookin.com and www.vote4susie.com to learn more about their candidacies.

To learn how you’re paying more in tax dollars because of the abusive and unsupervised LCDC, read Dan Gookin’s report The LCDC. It's the report you won't ever see on the Coeur d'Alene City website or the LCDC's website, because the Mayor, the City Council, and the LCDC don't want us to understand the LCDC's abuse of Idaho’s urban renewal law and how LCDC is misusing our tax dollars.

Remember, thanks to a willing and compliant Coeur d’Alene Mayor and City Council, the LCDC obligated county taxpayers for 24 years. In the name of enriching already rich developers, builders, and realtors, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem and City Council members Dixie “Inside Connection” Reid, Al Hassell, Ron Edinger, Mike Kennedy, Woody McEvers, and Deanna Goodlander have made promises you, your children, and your grandchildren will be legally obligated to keep.

We, all Kootenai County taxpayers, have been attacked by the LCDC cancer, and to effectively manage it we must participate in our own treatment. Become an informed voter. The superficial appearance of health and prosperity in Coeur d’Alene conceals the malignancy that lurks beneath. Study Dan Gookin’s report. Pay attention to what your Mayor and City Council are doing. Don't assume all that looks good is good.

On November 6, vote for the three candidates who want to manage and control the cancer that is LCDC. Vote for Dan Gookin for Council seat #1, Jim Brannon for Council seat #3, and Susie Snedaker for Council seat #5.


Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Some readers, particularly those who are cancer survivors or who have lost loved ones or friends to cancer, may be offended by this post which compares Coeur d'Alene's urban renewal agency, the Lake City Development Corporation or LCDC, to cancer. Before condemning my use of that comparison, know that I was born in 1948 and grew up in Palouse, Washington. I grew up downwind from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, now known as the Hanford Site. In 1985 during a routine physical examination, the doctor found a tumor growing on my thyroid. Both nodes of my thyroid gland and the tumor were surgically removed, and I am now cancer-free. In July 2002 my dad died from the effects of pancreatic cancer. Eleven months later, my mom died from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I understand cancer. The comparison is valid. If you're offended, I'm sorry.

8:29 AM, October 29, 2007  
Blogger tumblewords said...

The LCDC endorsement resembles the Patriot Act. If we're not for it, we are unpatriotic. I have a hard time understanding the general assumption that unchecked development is good for Coeur d'Alene. A native of Coeur d'Alene, I find this extreme growth outrageous and detrimental to a family lifestyle. Good post.

10:17 AM, October 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I checked out Gookin's amazing profile of the LCDC.

I will never look at flower baskets, the Chamber of Commerce,or brick facades the same ever again. Do you think LCDC would hang a few of those baskets on my porch roof?

Some deterioration that is going on in CDA that just happens past the point of the Hagadone.

...and the salaries! My God what a gravy strip. I have to work for my money but LCDC and favored cohorts get their's for free and/or 'loans' out a few million ... to whoever at their own descretion. 50K for a PARTY? I am shocked.

WOW - does not do that report justice.


11:15 AM, October 29, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Thank you for reading that very long post and for commenting. Back around October 12, Dogwalk Musings had a post that linked readers to a Rocky Mountain Institute paper titled Paying for Growth, Prospering From Development. The paper makes insightful distinctions between growth and development. Sadly, when it comes to effectively overseeing the LCDC and in the city's public policy in general, our Mayor and City Council are only interested in economic development, and the social consequences be damned.

Thanks again.

11:33 AM, October 29, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Dan's strength is being able to distill a very complex subject into easily understood terms. That's not talking down to people. I dare say that if our Mayor and City Council understood tax increment financing and its application in urban renewal funding as well as Dan does, they would have been able to (1) avoid the many mistakes they've made and (2) explained the LCDC and TIF to people in a way that might have made sense. As many of us have learned, when you ask our Mayor and City Council about the LCDC or TIF, you're immediately refered to Tony "Baffle 'em with BS" Berns or Troy Tymesen for a non-answer answer. Of course, one problem with the city is that you get a different answer each time you ask the same question. Hmmmm.

11:37 AM, October 29, 2007  
Anonymous Wondering said...

Simply put, I wish this commentary could be printed on the front page of the Press. I wish it could be posted on every lamp post and in every store window. I wish each and every voter had the chance to digest this information. I have never before seen a more questionable group of politicians. This situation is simply appalling.

4:49 PM, October 29, 2007  
Anonymous CdA Lover said...

Your comparing the City Council and others with a cancer is uncalled for. Further, you label them as greedy power-hungry profiteers. Shame on you.

You want to know something shocking? Most people around here actually appreciate what the City Council and the LCDC have been doing for our city. Imagine that! In fact, we are the majority. If you don't like it, maybe you should find some sleepy little town off the main highway where you can sit and watch the grass grow.

I applaud your right to disagree, but the language you've used is contemptible. My opinion of you has been lowered significantly.

11:17 PM, October 29, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

cda lover,

Thank you for reading and commenting on my post. Hit a little too close to home, did it?

6:46 AM, October 30, 2007  
Anonymous Wondering said...

As far as the actions of the current CDA council are concerned, "greedy profiteers" is a perfect description. Sorry CDA Lover, actions always speak louder than words. The quintessential case of absolute power corrupting.

9:45 AM, October 30, 2007  
Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

"Don't assume all that looks good is good." Herein lies the crux of it.

3:57 PM, October 30, 2007  
Anonymous Hilts said...

Very good article. The FACT that EVERY Kootenai County tax payer pays higher tax rates because of LCDC is just the tip of tax the iceberg. What happens to local businesses when they get a higher tax bill from the county? They, understandably, raise their prices. That means that we pay higher prices for goods and services here, and more state sales tax on those higher prices. Would "Hand Out Harry" Amend be whining for more school levies if LCDC was giving SD 271 the money they should be getting? I thought taxation without representation was a thing of the past.

4:36 AM, October 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The crux of the problem is not growth or the caliber of growth being seen. It is the methods employed to accomplish that growth. Our valid system of checks and balances has become corrupted. Projects are being undertaken for the sake of generating money and not necessarily for the good of the community. Information is being hidden and decisions made only behind closed doors. Rules and laws are being set aside. We have lost representative gov't here in CDA. Those who profit by it frantically want it to continue and will stoop to any length to accomplish their goals. In time those who have broken laws will be held accountable. On the 6th of Nov we will start regaining a gov't of the people, by the people and for the people.

1:03 PM, October 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bill, did DFO really delink you over this post? Has he said anything to you?

5:47 PM, November 01, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


I haven't looked at his blog in about a month now, so I didn't know I had been delinked until another poster told me. Since that was long before my post about the cancerous LCDC, I don't think it was connected to that specific post. More likely it was because I strongly and publicly support Dan Gookin, Jim Brannon, and Susie Snedaker for the CdA City Council. Edinger and Hassell have both made false and misleading public statements, saying that the CdA Council does not conduct business behind closed doors. Bruning is a cowardly weather vane who will do whatever Sandi Bloem tells him to do without question.

6:58 PM, November 01, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The SR hate-blog is a waste of space. Your deletion from the rolls is a badge of honor and integrity. Stand tall and spit in their face.

9:40 PM, November 01, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


On Thursday the Spokesman-Review fired 14 newsroom staff members and announced 3-5 more would also be fired. Sad that a washed-up gossip columnist would be safely entrenched while good reporters are canned. That seems to be indicative of the Cowles' commitment to excellence in journalism.

6:29 AM, November 02, 2007  
Anonymous Wondering the first said...

Sadly, that gossip columnist remains because he is a good little Pinnochio. He does as he is told. Good job security while honest workers are unemployed. And he doesn't even write an original column. He simply regurgitates what his bloggers have posted. The SR ought to pay royalties!

10:48 AM, November 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While DFO's incompetence is clear to some we still have a major news (supposedly) outfit working feverishly to bias information for their personal gain. That is serious and that needs to come to an end someway. Yes we see signs that it is faltering, perhaps on it's last leg. But there will be thousands of unethical SR publications hitting our streets today trying to worm this election in a specific direction. It is a sad day in politics and heinous time in journalism.

4:46 AM, November 03, 2007  
Anonymous Wondering the first said...

I think that most people have a low opinion of politics in general. We certainly view politics and politicians with a jaundiced eye, as we should. I also believe that a new low in campaigning will appear in the Sunday paper. While I'm not surprised at the illegal political commentary during council meetings, I believe we are in for a new low in political advertising, to say nothing of a quintessential example of "bitter grapes".

10:06 AM, November 03, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what I say to all of this?


All I know is my friends and I love the new library, love Riverstone, love the Old Mill Park, and absolutely going to get tons of use out of the Kroc Center.

So, "whatever"

12:55 AM, November 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider this "whatever". I agree the new projects look wonderful but they were rife with sloppy spending. If you like this sort of growth then we could actually see more of it if these people would wisely use our money. Instead they waste it. Just look at the Kroc hole. The cost to remediate it went from 1 to 3 million and then they did not put the work contract out to bid. 2 million dollars of questionable spending, The library went over budget by millions also. Per Bloem the city spent $18 million more than it planned to this FIY alone. So you can love these things all you want but do you love having your hard earned money wasted?

12:56 PM, November 05, 2007  
Blogger Phil said...

do you love having your hard earned money wasted?

That's just it. I do not consider any of these city expenditures to be a waste. Not for what we are getting in return. I'm just wondering why it took so long to get some of these things accomplished, especially the community center. This city is way behind on spending money on itself.

8:35 PM, November 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

many of you may have seen the newsletter of lies and if you didnt know who sent it well heres what you've been waiting for. 2 people who dont even live in the city one of which is kathy sims who lives down in the city of fernan and thomas macy who lives in post falls. the way i see it if they want to complain about what the city does, then move into the city.

1:59 PM, November 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil, you are funny. The City didn't build a community center because the VOTERS said NO. They still are not building one. Instead, they are making a GIFT of 4.5 MILLION tax dollars to a CHURCH facility that will CHARGE citizens a fee to be allowed to use the facility.

5:43 PM, November 06, 2007  
Anonymous brentandrews said...

I've only just read this post, and all of the comments, and what strikes me hardest is this part of one of the comments:

"... we are the majority. If you don't like it, maybe you should find some sleepy little town ..."

And I think, Thomas Jefferson would have called this Tyranny of the Majority. It's Majority Rule as Nightmare Social Scenario. "If you don't like it, get out." It's scary, and downright un-American, if you ask me.

7:49 PM, November 06, 2007  
Blogger Phil said...

No, actually, I'm not very funny, but I appreciate you saying I am.

Call the Kroc Center what you want. A church, a gift, a tax burden, a community center. I'll call it an amazing place for me to take my kids two or three times a week for swimming, classes, exercise, basketball, games, birthday parties, etc.

When I lived in Boise, the YMCA opened up a beautiful new building on the western outskirts of town. Was it free? Nope. Then they remodeled the downtown YMCA. Still not free.

Nampa decided they needed a community center. Is it free? No.

The cost of the Kroc Center will be $56 per month for a family of four. That's the high end of the sliding scale. If you don't have the income to afford it, a scholarship will be awarded. NOBODY WILL BE TURNED AWAY FOR LACK OF INCOME. You want a membership, you'll have one based upon your income.

Personally, I think $56 for a family of four is the bargain of bargains. For the use we'll get out of the facility, I frankly can't think of anything else that gives that kind of return on investment.

10:59 PM, November 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil, you still don't get it. With more competent leaders you could have had ALL of these projects for a lot less. Even if they shuffled the money around to make these happen if they spent it wisely instead of lavishing it on cohorts a lot could have been saved.

Happy you're thrilled with the Kroc. Guess what? They will not let everyone in for free who needs to get in for free. There's just too many around here. Those who do get in for free will not have access to everything the Kroc offers. They get to use just the basic services. The $56 dollars per month also does not buy everything the Kroc will offer. Surcharges are planned for the climbing wall, the skateboard park, etc... Compare your $56/month for a family of 4 to $1.67/month for the Boys and Girls Club coming to PF for 2 kids. The Kroc is not aimed for the poor families. They are merely to be accommodated and not very well at that. They will not be welcomed and no doubt will make little use of the facility. I doubt that there's enough paying people to float the place and soon the city will need to help underwrite it operations to keep it open.

4:35 AM, November 07, 2007  
Anonymous Wondering the first said...

Epilog: Clearly, you can lead a person to knowledge...but you cannot make him think.

2:53 PM, November 08, 2007  
Blogger Phil said...

The Kroc is not aimed for the poor families.

Yet the poor families are the ones who will receive scholarships to the Kroc Center, not middle income folks like me who will gladly pay full price.

And are you seriously comparing the Boys and Girls Club to the Kroc Center? The B&G Club will basically be a gymnasium and a kitchen. It's apples and oranges.

If you only want to see the negatives in something, that's your problem. But the positives of the Kroc Center for EVERYONE in this community are overwhelming.

If you're really concerned about the poor families getting to use the Kroc Center, why don't you call John Chamness and make arrangements for a donation to their scholarship fund.

7:54 PM, November 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil you must be an easily led person. Take off the rose colored lenses and think about it.

1st The Kroc will be a full service, world class gym. How many people will stop using other private health clubs to use the Kroc? Will the gov;t sponsored Kroc close down independent private health clubs?

2nd The average income for a CDA household is around 40K annually. The Kroc will need a majority of its memberships at full pay to operate. Can they absorb 50% give-away memberships, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5 ? "Scholarships" will not be available to EVERY poor family. There will be a limited number of "scholarships" afforded. And they're not scholarships they're religious indoctrination passes.

3rd Donations you say? They already got $4.5 million HANDED to them from our tax money. Will they need more money handed to them annually just to allow a handful of poor families to adorn the facility? "We're sorry but we only got enough money donated this year for 20 families so too bad everyone else".

You contradicted your own statement. The Kroc is clearly not aimed for the poor in our community. It was not built with them at the forefront of the goal. It will not reach out to them first leaving the balance of usage to paying members. The poor are to be accommodated in limited numbers and in a second class manner. The Kroc is an upscale health facility intended to generate income for a church, a religious sect. That is a fine business model except for one glaring and major flaw. They took gov't funds to build it and that is wrong no matter how much lipstick you slather on the silly thing.

7:39 AM, November 09, 2007  
Anonymous Wondering the first said...

Re: the Kroc Center, no matter which side of the fence you stand upon, the center is not a gift to the city of CDA. When you receive a gift, it becomes your property. You legally own it. CDA does not own the Kroc. CDA does not have the right to direct or dictate the operation of the Kroc. In no way whatsoever was the Kroc a gift to CDA. It was and is a shell game using public funds and language to obfuscate the truth. Now as a citizen of CDA you may pay to use it...but you do not own it, and never will. We do not have the infrastructure to maintain this facility. Over the years, it will become a financial burden. Phil my friend, what part of the word gift do you not understand. I certainly do not criticize your support, go for it. But, make no mistake, this facility will be totally dictated by the SA. CDA did not receive any gift...we gave a gift.

9:04 AM, November 09, 2007  
Blogger Phil said...

We'll agree to disagree on the benefits of the Kroc Center. All I know is that two years from now my kids and I will be swimming, climbing, and running all over the inside of this amazing facility. Much of the year we'll be able to ride our bikes to it on the new Prairie Trail. If you guys don't want to use it, that's fine.

I'm normally an optimistic person, and I believe the Kroc Center will sustain itself, that it will be a boon to our community like nothing else that currently exists.

By the way, John and Lani Chamness are the nicest, most decent and honest people I have ever met in my entire life. They and their kids are the real deal, people you'd want as friends and neighbors. When they tell me something, I absolutely believe them. There isn't a dishonest bone in their bodies. They want the Kroc Center to be an asset for our community. There is no dark ulterior motive.

11:50 PM, November 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Chamness made us ALL a promise. He stated it and it is still posted on the Salvation Army Kroc Center web site. He promised us all that NO tax money would be used for the Kroc Center. He broke that promise. He broke that promise in a very, very big way and Phil this you cannot deny. So much for honesty and Christian ethics.

His intentions maybe the finest on earth. Is he a business wizard? Did he step away from a supremely successful career to follow the calling of his religion? He hopes, he prays, he expects that the Kroc Center will be self sustaining. It is one of the largest and most expensive Kroc Centers to be built and it will serve a community much smaller than others. A lot of our community leaves for half the year and it happens to be the half with the most money. Already the projected fees are too excessive for most CDA residents. Dicey at best. Keep your fingers crossed.

Lock the city coffers and get us an honest Mayor, the delays and cost overruns have just begun. Get ready for the we need "X" amount more to finish up. "We could not foresee these unexpected expenses".

10:45 AM, November 17, 2007  

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