Leaf-Fest: a Misguided Venture?

As the city of Coeur d’Alene wraps up the annual “leaf-fest,” wherein street crews collect around 1,400 tons of leaves, some argue the task is unnecessary and even harmful to the environment. Check out Nathan’s report:

People raking their leaves is in fact not helpful because it is bad for the environment, ends up destroying key parts of ecosystems, and can affect the water supply that we all use daily. In the article, “Good news: You don’t need to rake your leaves; experts explain why” the author states, “Mizejewski explained that leaves and other organic matter sent to landfills can break down and form methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change” (Pitofsky 2). This shows that when people rake their leaves, bag them, and take them to the dump, it causes climate change. While getting rid of the leaves makes your lawn look nice, it ends up releasing methane and causing climate change, which is bad for the environment. Later, when discussing life on the lawn, the author states, “The layer of leaves on your lawn is ‘really important wildlife habitat,’ according to Mizejewski, forming ‘an entire ecosystem in and of itself.’” (Pitofsky 2). This clearly shows that anyone’s lawn is important to all critters and creatures. Why would people rake their leaves when it actually does harm? Raking leaves should be one of the last things people do as they really do it to have a nice looking lawn when it will be covered in snow in a few weeks. The author states “Leaves can also end up in streams and rivers where drains lead. That can affect the water quality and ‘sensitive species adapted to those waterways,’ according to Schlossberg” (Pitofsky 3). When there are huge piles of leaves they can be blown into rivers, streams, and lakes which could potentially harm the wildlife there. Raking your leaves takes more work and if you didn’t do it, it would help the environment, help small animals, and benefit the water supply. 

Pitofsky, Marina. “Good News: You Don’t Need to Rake Your Leaves. Experts Explain Why.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 24 Oct. 2021, 

However, CdA leaves are shredded and turned into compost.

Photo Courtesy of City of Coeur d’Alene; link

Coming Soon to CdA

Armored vehicle listed for sale by Lenco. This is one of three models the city may purchase.

Due to a 450% increase in CdA SWAT calls since 2014, the city council approved the purchase of a newly rebuilt armored vehicle similar to above for $183,000 discounted from a new model $380,000. 

Year to date, the SWAT team has been called upon 18 times including one officer-involved shooting. Officers currently do not have armored vehicles. Chief White stated it will be used to “[rescue citizens trapped by gunfire, or safely evacuate them without exposing them to gunfire. It can delay officers needing to respond with gunfire.]” Councilmember Amy Evans asked how the police chief will ensure it is only used in protective measures. The Asset forfeiture fund will be cleaned out to fund most of the purchase with the balance coming from funds previously budgeted for a patrol car. The vehicle will get an updated black and white paint job to match the city’s fleet. The police department will still be able to purchase four patrol cars. 

Kootenai Health Pediatrician Validated, Well Sort of

Dr. Carroll was right–at least about one thing. The hospitalization rate for <18-year-old-kids positive for Covid jumped to nearly 2%. Since we questioned the Press’ coverage of Dr. Carroll’s Rotary presentation, an additional 934 juveniles confirmed or suspected positive for SARS-CoV2 resulted in 18 hospitalizations among the same demographic. No reports of deaths or PICU transfers of these SARS-CoV2 patients have emerged. The increase of the average 1.1% hospitalization rate is attributed to the Delta variant.

As hospitalization rates of children increased the only local school with a mask mandate, Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, dropped the masking requirement October 18, about four weeks after their board member condemned the Press and Dr. Carroll for “[fanning flames of panic].” The charter school reports 20 cases so far this year among its population of 670 individuals. Coeur d’Alene public schools observed a 27% drop in total overall Covid cases over the last four weeks (10/11-11/7, chart 1) despite not requiring masks during the back-to-school Covid surge (chart 2). Masks work (chart 4). So, how do we explain this drop in cases? And, how does a community decide an acceptable risk and mitigation? Is this outcome acceptable? Would masking in schools have prevented eighteen children from hospitalization and hundreds of others from infection? Whether this outcome is satisfactory or not without masks, what about a vaccine mandate?

1. Coeur d’Alene School district schools
2. Kootenai County confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 ages <18

With the recent approval of Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11 the new school board will undoubtedly be deluged with demands for vaccine requirements from concerned parents. Natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity rates in the community should be considered along with novel therapeutics. Recently two new therapeutics emerged reporting an 89% reduction in hospitalization and death. Considering the community vaccine uptake–or lack thereof–should school boards or municipalities consider a vaccine mandate for kids or avoid a mandate and accept the risks of additional infections and hospitalizations? The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports nearly 5,000 PHD children <18, less than one in three, have had at least one dose of the vaccine. Unfortunately the dashboard fails to allow further distinction of the data by county. One estimate for Kootenai County based on proportional vaccination uptake is 3,517 (based on Kootenai County comprising 71.3% of the PHD population). At least 3,431 Kootenai County kids have already had covid indicative of 3,517-8,000+ kids with some level of immunity. Judging by the overall vaccine uptake rate in the Panhandle health district a vaccine mandate will not be well received and yield poor compliance.

3. Panhandle Health District Vaccine data. Link: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/idaho.division.of.public.health/viz/COVID-19VaccineDataDashboard/LandingPage accessed 11/8/2021
4. Effectiveness of different mask types at capturing respiratory droplets. A value of 0 means that all droplets were captured, while a value of 1 means no reduction in droplets. From Fischer and others 2020: Low-cost measurement of facemask efficacy for filtering expelled droplets during speech. Link

Votes Are In…. Are We Headed for a Recount?

Photo by Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

Kootenai County has posted the unofficial election results to their website which redirects here

The Coeur d’Alene races turned out mostly how we predicted (5/7) with the exception of the school board. The largest surprise was the turnout which nearly doubled from 2019 for the city of CdA residents with over 10,000 votes cast. Below we break out school board and CdA city race analysis.

School Board

While our prediction was incorrect our endorsements apparently coincided with the voting populace. These races were very close and failed to resemble a decisive victory, reflecting the division in our community. Winners would be wise to proceed with moderate rather than polarizing actions. 

City Council

Most CdA voters wanted someone other than Amy Evans but failed to coalesce around one of her two opponents. Kiki Miller narrowly beat Elaine Price by 49 votes, less than 0.5%. Woody McEvers enjoyed the largest margin in his likely last term serving by our interpretation of his comments that he was [considering not running again due to his age]. Jim Hammond arguably benefited from having two opponents but won with more than 50%.

We reached out to Elaine Price and Lindsey Swingrover to ascertain their intentions regarding a recount but did not immediately hear back. We will update the story if they respond.

Today is the day…

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Today is the day we let less than 11% of voters or about 2,700 people determine who makes decisions in our schools*, cities, and other local governing bodies.* While that doesn’t sound like democracy, Kootenai county voting data reveal less than 20% of Coeur d’Alene registered voters cast a ballot in 2019. The lack of state and national elections contributes to the lack of involvement. However, local and national controversies such as masking and mandates as well as tragedies such as the alleged Virginia rape and associated school board cover-up have piqued parent involvement and furor. It will be interesting to see if the vocal activism and protests turn out more votes than Coeur d’Alene’s  2019 total just over 5,300.

Below are our Coeur d’Alene election predictions not to be confused with our endorsement

Voter Turnout prediction: 6,800

School District 271:

Lisa May, Rebecca Smith, Lindsey Swingrover

CdA City Council and Mayor:

Jim Hammond, mayor

Woody McEvers

Kiki Miller

Amy Evans

2019 Turnout

2019 CDA City Voting
precinctregistered votersVotes Castpercent votes


*Please note that school board zones include rural areas that do not vote in city council elections. The precincts listed all are within Coeur d’Alene city limits.