Mayor Hammond’s Balancing Act

Mayor Jim Hammond, strikingly portrayed in this Rubik’s Cube mosaic, has the constant pressure that comes with being the mayor of the great city of Coeur d’Alene. He is pressured by others but always has to make the decisions he deems to be correct. In any position of leadership there are hard decisions to be made that can sometimes displease the general public. It is a constant balancing act between pleasing the public and doing what is best for the city. Earlier this year Jim Hammond contemplated a change allowing only citizens residing within the city limits can participate in the public comment. Sometimes time was wasted because the city can’t do much about what is outside city limits. Before citizens could make a case against the idea he removed it from the agenda. Since then we have endured a few unruly or comical perhaps disrespectful public comments at city council meetings. Some lament the past few sessions of public comment as unproductive because of this. However, most of the general public appreciates that public comment has remained open and does not require verbalization of one’s physical address. -NP


Parent Sounds Alarm on “Sources of Strength”

On Monday, October 3rd, the CdA School Board will vote on implementing the Sources of Strength program for grades K-5. The program is touted as “A best practice youth suicide prevention project designed to harness the power of peer social networks to change unhealthy norms and culture, ultimately preventing suicide, bullying, and substance abuse.” Implementation was previously considered by a committee which generated many pros and cons, recorded here. Ultimately, the group requested the issue come before the School Board for a final vote. The Board will consider this item at 5 pm on October 3rd at the Midtown Center Meeting Room, 1505 N. 5th Street, Coeur d’Alene.

Conrad Woodall, a local parent with a Master’s in forensic psychology, recently participated on Ed Bejarana’s Idaho Speaks podcast. His daughter Ella accompanied him and shared her experiences with the Sources of Strength program and teen use/abuse of social media platforms. Conrad and Ella oppose the program citing their experience that bullying and harassment have continued, sometimes originating from peer leaders at schools with the Sources of Strength curriculum. The interview in its entirety is here. Conrad Woodall suggests the program will not have the desired impact on teen suicide. He would like to see enhanced training of primary care providers including assessment of suicidality and referral to mental health specialists.

Loss of Newspapers Contributes to Political Polarization

Repost from January 30, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — The steady loss of local newspapers and journalists across the country contributes to the nation’s political polarization, a new study has found.

With fewer opportunities to find out about local politicians, citizens are more likely to turn to national sources like cable news and apply their feelings about national politics to people running for the town council or state legislature, according to research published in the Journal of Communication.

The result is much less “split ticket” voting, or people whose ballot includes votes for people of different parties. In 1992, 37 percent of states with Senate races elected a senator from a different party than the presidential candidate the state supported. In 2016, for the first time in a century, no state did that, the study found.

“The voting behavior was more polarized, less likely to include split ticket voting, if a newspaper had died in the community,” said Johanna Dunaway, a communications professor at Texas A&M University, who conducted the research with colleagues from Colorado State and Louisiana State universities.

Researchers reached that conclusion by comparing voting data from 66 communities where newspapers have closed in the past two decades to 77 areas where local newspapers continue to operate, she said.

“We have this loss of engagement at the local level,” she said.

The struggling news industry has seen some 1,800 newspapers shut down since 2004, the vast majority of them community weeklies, said Penelope Muse Abernathy, a University of North Carolina professor who studies the contraction. Many larger daily newspapers that have remained open have effectively become ghosts, with much smaller staffs that are unable to offer the breadth of coverage they once did. About 7,100 newspapers remain.

Researchers are only beginning to measure the public impact of such losses. Among the other findings is less voter participation among news-deprived citizens in “off-year” elections where local offices are decided, Abernathy said. Another study suggested a link to increased government spending in communities where “watchdog” journalists have disappeared, she said.

Dunaway said voters in communities without newspapers are more likely to be influenced by national labels — if they like Republicans like President Donald Trump, for example, that approval will probably extend to Republicans lower on the ballot.

The diminished news sources also alter politicians’ strategies, Dunaway said.

“They have to rely on party ‘brand names’ and are less about ‘how I can do best for my district,’” she said.

In Case You Missed It: Downtown Turnover

VR CdA closes shop and heads to Boise

Virtual Reality CDA and Abi’s Ice Cream closed their downtown operations. Since VRCDA left the area four months ago the location remains vacant.

Although apparently everyone loved Abi’s Ice Cream and you could even help make it, if lucky enough, new tenants are making a gutsy move by turning it into a sausage shop. It is unknown if we will want to see how the sausage is made.

 Two local favorites leave CdA!? What Gives?!

Abi’s owner “decided to retire” even after seeing “+20% gains year over year since opening in 2016.” Note to investors: Do not get bearish on downtown CdA.

Park Delay Drove Up Taxpayer Bill

Background: August 16, 2021, the Rotary Club presented their redesign of a small city park on Sherman Ave to the Park and Rec commission. Christie Wood, city council member up for re-election, initially denied approval because no bathroom was added by the benefactors who donated $275,000 to the project. Christie Wood wanted the group to go back to the drawing board to install a bathroom even though the issue had been thoroughly discussed and donors refused. We reported it here. Rotary was not happy with the request and stated that the delay would put a kink in the project. 

Impact: The delay resulted in an increased cost to taxpayers. In May 2022, Rotary requested and received up to $100,000 from ignite cda, the city’s urban renewal agency. The estimated total increase in cost was $176,000. Concrete costs were 35% higher than last fall. As Councilmember Wood is up for re-election in November, rotarians will likely think twice before endorsing or voting for her. Four months behind schedule, the park is nearly finished without a bathroom.

Needless delay and the impact on video here.

CdA Paving Owner, Kaufman, Steamrolled by Neighbors

A 2+ acre property located at 2810 N. 17th Street is zoned R-12 and feasibly allows for 14-16 duplexes. However, the longtime resident and owner of CdA Paving, Todd Kaufman wanted to create a Planned Unit Development of 24 “twin homes” that would be geared toward owner-occupancy. After several hours of dissenting public comment, the Planning Commission denied the application. Commissioner Ingalls stated the request did not meet the criteria of compatibility with adjacent lots. Kaufman’s representative stated he would like to meet with neighbors to find an acceptable solution.

Proponents argue that this proposal aligns with the city’s newly revamped comprehensive plan. Worry exists that infill housing will be hard to create if the public continues to oppose similar projects.

Father De Smet

This picture is of a sculpture of Father De Smet, a Jesuit Priest. This was made by Mahonri Young, at the “This Is The Place Monument” in Utah. De Smet came to the northwest to set up missions. He has impacted our society because he spread Catholicism to Idaho/CdA which contributed to today’s Coeur d’Alene.