The City's Pulse Newsletter
Dear Newsletter Readers,

It’s been a busy week, with the governor, legislators and congressmen in town, and some important citizen rights issues in question.  I see in this morning’s Press that the Idaho Attorney General has decided the identities of citizens bringing questions to their legislators are protected information.  That’s a relief for everyone advocating for responsible government!

Below you will find my column from the CdA Press yesterday.  (It’s now a once-a-month offering, since the downturn and cutbacks)  Yes, it is a straightforward and somewhat bold piece, but someone had to say it.  I took care to only reference the official behavior of our elected or appointed leaders in their official capacities.  These are not statements about their personal lives or choices.  As citizens of this community, we deserve to have a respectful, responsible government.  Any attempts by our officials to limit citizen voices is wrong.

I hope you have a great weekend and enjoy the beginning signs of Spring.  

Go Zags!  --Mary
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Fear Factor, part one

Intimidation in this town has got to stop!  I’ve heard stories galore detailing the long history of harassment and cronyism in this city, and it is well past time for these deplorable methods to end.

The latest example is Charlie Nipp of LCDC condemning Senator Mike Jorgenson for representing the concerns of taxpayers.  Mr. Nipp threatened legal action because the senator asked the Attorney General’s office if state disclosure laws were being followed properly.  The AG found reason to investigate and concluded there were indeed violations of the law by Mr. Nipp, but not to a criminal extent.

Mr. Nipp did not apologize for his failure to disclose potential conflicts of interest, nor did he acknowledge the public’s right to question those who handle taxpayer money.  Charlie Nipp chose, instead, to denigrate Sen.Jorgenson and hunt down anyone who asked about these matters. Charlie wants a list. Unspoken message to community: Don’t even think about questioning the LCDC!

At the first meeting of the Coeur d’Alene City Council after the AG’s opinion, I respectfully asked the mayor and council to call for Mr. Nipp’s resignation. My request was based on the AG’s findings as well as the fact that Mr. Nipp, though fully informed, did not file any disclosures required by law for almost 10 years as Chairman of LCDC. Another citizen, Jim Brannon, spoke publicly to ask for more diligent council oversight of the board.

From their perch, high above the audience, the city council had no comments while I was standing at the podium.  It wasn’t until I sat down and could no longer respond, that they started to attack citizens, by name, for speaking out.  Councilman Ron Edinger sarcastically reprimanded us, saying we were “out of place”.  Councilwoman Goodlander accused us of “character assassination”, though no one had said a word against Mr. Nipp’s character. Meanwhile, the mayor and council neglected to do their job. They never discussed the AG’s report, Mr. Nipp’s decade without disclosures or their responsibility to supervise the LCDC.  Not a word.  Unspoken message to community: Don’t even think about questioning the LCDC!

Two days later, at a public meeting in City Hall, long time community advocate, Susie Snedaker was verbally accosted by Councilman Mike Kennedy.  He angrily demanded to know who she is friends with, who she’s been talking to and what “group” might be organizing.  Mike chastised her for challenging the city and said the council doesn't appreciate her testimony at their meetings.  Susie called me later that evening, still shaking with shock and disbelief.

I understood her reaction because Councilman Kennedy did something similar to me. It was at a public forum on LCDC, about a year ago.  Mr. Kennedy charged up, coming way too close, then loudly berated me for a comment I had written. His face was red and his neck veins were bulging. He was so incensed that, as a former critical care nurse, I was mentally reviewing the protocols for CPR.  

Mike Kennedy works full-time for Steve Meyer, who is Charlie Nipp’s partner in another business, a large real estate development company.  Mr. Kennedy has an important job to protect--his own.  Unspoken message to community: Don’t even think about questioning the LCDC!

LCDC has given taxpayer dollars to many of our community’s organizations, thereby ensuring their allegiance. The Chamber, Library, Kroc Center, School District and NIC have all received money, or commitments of such, from LCDC.  Now they can’t or won’t speak out.  

Here’s my loudly stated message to the City and LCDC:  People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.  Please start treating citizens with respect, answer our questions, listen to our ideas, ask for our vote, follow the laws and handle our money with transparency.   As Thomas Jefferson wrote, “When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory.”


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Mary Souza has been a concerned citizen of CdA for over 20 years. She's a local small business owner, former P&Z Commissioner and wrote an opinion column in the CdA Press on local issues.  Her opinions are her own.

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