County OFGC Update

As you know, Kootenai County’s three elected commissioners appointed nine citizens to a special commission and asked them to examine the pros and cons of the optional forms of government that a county can legally adopt. This Optional Forms of Government Commission has met several times and heard input from several people. At their invitation, I attended their meeting last Wednesday to provide a Democrat’s point of view. My message to the commissioners was published last week on our website Statement Regarding Kootenai County’s Optional Forms of Government Study Commission and garnered front-page coverage in the CDA Press: Democrat leader weighs in on forms of government.

Briefly, I told the commissioners that Democrats believe in local government that is open, accountable, and strictly nonpartisan. Therefore, candidates for local offices should run on their qualifications, not on their party affiliations. We know that governing is complex and sophisticated. Consequently, we deserve commissioners who can understand the issues and have the capacity to think critically about how to address them. Most importantly, we want a government that puts the welfare of the community above the service of partisan goals.

I urged the commission’s members to vigorously investigate different forms of local governance and assess what recognized experts have written about them. In addition, they should look at forms of county government in use in other counties including those outside of Idaho. Their considerations should be based on evidence and expert opinion, not partisan views. Finally, whatever form of government is recommended, it should be set up in a way that ensures nonpartisanship in Kootenai County.

Unfortunately, a faction within the GOP Central Committee is intent on politicizing every aspect of local government. They have used partisan tactics to undermine the North Idaho College Board and jeopardize its accreditation. They have used similar tactics to insert unqualified partisan disrupters on local school and library boards. Now they are now threatening the integrity of the city council. Moreover, partisan protestors disrupt public meetings to intimidate government administrators. This is something all Kootenai County citizens should try to prevent. Consequently, we are monitoring the Optional Forms of Government Commission meetings. You can watch them here: Study Commission.

CDA Chamber Includes People Like You and Me

Before being persuaded by Paula Marano, I was reluctant to attend the monthly Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce “Upbeat Breakfast” Meetings. My skepticism stemmed from an assumption that the Chamber didn’t align with Democratic Party principles. I was wrong.

The CDA Chamber includes many people who are striving to build viable businesses and make a living. In other words, they are just like you and me. At these monthly meetings, business owners and their supporters share ideas, foster support, and make connections.

At my first breakfast, the presenters were Jessica Mahuron, Naomi Boutz, and Dustin Ainsworth. They represented the Civic Engagement Alliance, Vine & Olive Eatery and Wine Bar, and The Core Group. Together they spoke about how they adapted their enterprises to cope with COVID-19.

The next two breakfasts focused on education. One featured Coeur d’Alene’s top high school students who spoke about their accomplishments and aspirations. The other included the superintendents of three Kootenai County’s School Districts. These administrators explained how running a public school is like running a business. For example, they develop business plans, manage budgets, track daily attendance, handle human resources and more. The superintendents also conveyed that our public schools support our economy. They not only provide employment, but they also prepare future job seekers and business owners who will help our economy prosper.

So, I have new appreciation for the work of the CDA Chamber of Commerce. I appreciate them for the work they do and for reminding me of the vitality and relevance of our business community.

Democracy Dinner Update

As I have said in recent updates, we are taking steps to resume the Annual Democracy Dinner in September or October. The date and location are almost finalized, and we have received many suggestions for keynote speaker. The recommendations span the full range of Democratic Party beliefs. They include Idaho Representative Chris Mathias, US Senator Bernie Sanders, former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Bruce Reed. We even have a recommendation for David Brooks. He is a moderately conservative columnist for the New York Times and NPR political analyst.

The event coordinators are Shari Brooks, Cindy Algeo, Lindsey Barber, and Shawn Keenan. Reach out to them if you have ideas that can contribute to making this a successful event. We will post additional updates on our event calendar and social media, so watch them for the latest developments.

Have an excellent week everyone, and thanks for being a Democrat.

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