Do you think Tubb’s Hill is off the chopping block? It’s not. Do you think a public vote on McEuen is illegal? It’s not. And did you assume the CdA school district follows the law and accepted policy? Not so much. Come on in, sit down, we have some things to talk about:
1. You may have noticed that the CdA School Board quickly appointed a new member to take over Chairwoman Edie Brooks’ seat because she’s moving. Word from insiders is that the board decided amongst themselves (which violates the Open Meeting Law) last March whom they would appoint to that position, but their public “meeting”, which was really only a charade, was last week, where they allowed public comment and then voted to appoint their pre-planned choice. Edie chaired the meeting and voted on her replacement. According to some experts on this topic, that’s a big problem.
It seems that Idaho law (Title 33-5) indicates there’s not a vacancy until the person is gone, so Edie should not have voted on her successor. This is also in line with NIC’s policy on board member replacements. A former NIC board chairman told me that, according to their policy, the person leaving cannot participate in voting for the new member because the position must be vacant before it can be filled.
I was dismayed to see the Press editorial support the school board’s actions, even though the editor openly acknowledged the inappropriate process. He said the final result was good, in his opinion, so he’s not bothered by the method.
This is what’s wrong with local governance, people! Ethics and proper behavior are out the window. The law? The only way to hold them to the law is to have our county prosecutor take action, (good luck with that), or have a citizen file a law suit and take them to court. But that citizen better win the lottery first because it will cost a huge amount of money, right out of their personal pocket.
That’s why elections matter. We must pay attention to each and every election, no matter how small or innocuous the job might seem; we must elect people who are honest, ethical and will do the right thing!
2. Also on the topic of the school district, several readers sent me info after the last newsletter when I reported the district pays 100% of the medical, dental & vision premiums for the teachers, (and 73% for their families). One reader wrote this: “On the subject of health insurance, it might interest you to know that federal employees (I'm a retired one) pay about 40% of their health insurance--for a very modest plan, to boot. And, we pay 100% of any dental and vision coverage.”
3. I also heard from a school insider who said, “the district uses verbiage that obscures what’s really going on with their budget... the term "budget cuts" has nothing to do with actual expenditures of the district...many people don’t know how deceiving their wording really is."
4. Now on to the McEuen park Public Vote fiasco: After all of Councilman Kennedy’s many public statements and Scott Reed’s testimony and opinion column, inferring and indicating that a public vote would be illegal, City Attorney Mike Gridley wrote in a June 3rd letter to the Assistant Attorney General that,
“... my office has never advised council that it was illegal to have a public vote. To the contrary, we have advised council that at a minimum council could hold an advisory vote if they chose to do so.”
What? Why didn’t you make this a public statement, Mr. Gridley? Why didn’t your office come out right away, at the beginning of this process back in February, to inform the public of their rights and set aside the mis-information being spread by attorney Scott Reed and Councilman Kennedy?
5. And just as sneaky is the city’s gaming of Tubb’s Hill. We all probably thought Tubb’s was safe after it was taken off the formal McEuen Park Plan at the May 24th meeting at Woodland school. But the city has been busy since then. Parks Director Doug Eastwood has devised a clever plan to take away the power of the Tubb’s Hill Foundation. (Remember the Foundation came out publicly with a letter in the Press, stating they all stood firmly for preserving the integrity of the hill and would not support any structures or substantive changes to its character.) Well Doug Eastwood now wants a “subcommittee” to work on access to the hill. On this committee he will have 2 members from each of these city-controlled committees: Pedestrian-Bike, Open Space, Parks & Rec and 2 members from city staff. Oh, and they will also allow 2 people from the Tubb’s Hill Foundation. (City=8 votes, Foundation= only 2)
See how that works?: The Tubb’s Foundation has long been the protector of the hill; it is their absolute mission and they take it seriously. Now, in order to get their way, the city will dilute the power of the Foundation and, with a smile, take over the process.
Did I mention that elections matter?
Why not leave the Foundation to work solely and directly with the accessibility folks to find a possible agreement? That way we, the people, could rest assured that the integrity of Tubb’s will still be protected.
And so it goes, dear Readers. We must not give up. We can make a difference but we must get prepared and organize for the upcoming November elections. You may get tired of hearing it, but here’s one of my favorite bits of wisdom:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead, the celebrated anthropologist who studied civilizations and cultures all over the world.