By Mary Souza, May 11, 2012

Inclined to Intimidate

There’s a long standing, but ugly tradition of intimidation in our town. It’s trying to smother the Recall effort right now and it’s trying to block the public’s right to vote. But this time the intimidators are not going to win.

We have strength and safety in numbers, and thousands of people have already signed the Recall petitions. They are willing to stand up for what’s right.  What’s the city going to do...try to come after 5,000 citizens?  Remember, they’ll be out of office and will have no power to intimidate anyone. Isn’t that a very good reason for signing the Recall?

Let’s talk about some courageous community heros.  First is John Montandon, owner of the Ace Hardware down on east Sherman.  John allowed the Recall to have a small table and signs in his parking lot last Sunday and Monday.  Recall folks were there, waving signs and inviting people to drive through to sign the petitions...many signed right in their cars!

The public response was great.  But others were angry. The Police were called and came by frequently. The Code Enforcement officer came by multiple times as well.  Intimidation?  Heck yeah.

The Mayor’s daughter, Erica, closed her account at John’s store, others called with complaints, and Erica even threatened that the city would close their accounts too.  (Hmmm...she’s not the mayor.)  

But you know what?  John stood tall.  He took a stand for free speech and the rights of people to have differing ideas without fear of reprisal.  

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This quote is from author Evelyn Beatrice Hall, who was British but her words clearly support our American Constitutional right to a voice.

Our Recall signing station at John’s store on Sherman is still active and doing well.  Yesterday there was also a “Decline to Sign” guy nearby, but who cares?  It’s a free country isn’t it?...well is should be anyway.  Meanwhile, people were signing away at the Recall table.  Now that’s American!

And there’s another local hero to tell you about too, Tom Kane. Tom believes deeply in the Recall effort.  He has homemade signs in his yard on 3rd street, and he put a table outside where people can ask questions and sign the petition.  But Wednesday morning Tom woke up to quite a surprise: A dozen “Decline to Sign”s were stuck all over his yard, blocking many of his own signs supporting the Recall.

It was a juvenile trick.  But what happened afterward really bothers me.  Tom had pictures taken of the whole mess (you can see them on then he called the police and the Press.  The Press told him they would send someone over.  But a short while later, it wasn’t the Press who showed up, it was one of the young women who heads up the Decline group.  She said Mike Kennedy called her to go get the signs.  

Did the Press call Kennedy to make sure the signs were taken away before their photographer arrived?

Tom Kane told me he is saddened by the refusal of the city to listen and he thinks the Recall is now our only option. The anger and backlash from others is disturbing and he can’t believe anyone would try to block the public’s right to have a vote. Tom is standing strong and will continue to do so. You can read the wonderful poem he wrote about the Recall by clicking here: 

And then there’s the Breakfast Nook. They are not on the heros list...not yet anyway.  They gave the Recall permission to use their parking lot for a signing station, and everything was going well until the Press showed up.  A reporter from the Press started going through the restaurant, asking the food servers and other people what they thought of the Recall table outside. The owner got nervous and asked our Recall folks to leave. The Breakfast Nook buckled under the pressure.  But maybe some phone calls of support will help them feel strong enough to stand by their original decision to allow free speech: 667-1699.

So here’s what I’m asking you, dear readers: Will you please take your business to the Ace Hardware at 1010 E. Sherman? You can call John at 664-6221 and thank him for his courage.  And, if you drive by Tom’s house on 3rd, honk and wave or, better yet, stop and sign if you haven’t done so yet.  

Do you know a good place for a Recall signing station? We’re looking for places with good traffic flow, but not fast traffic, and an easy place to turn off the street into a parking lot or open area. The owners must be unafraid and tenacious. We'll provide the volunteers and signs. Please call us at Recall CdA, 704-1596.

We should honor all our local heros, including the thousands of Coeur d’Alene people who are raising up to sign the petitions that will give us ALL a public vote on the future of our city. 

Let’s close the book on intimidation here.  It’s time to write a new chapter for Coeur d’Alene. 

RECALL CdA Headquarters is in the Sunset Mall, across Hwy 95 from Fred Meyer.  We are near Coin Nuts and the Mexican restaurant.