Target is county’s optional forms of government commission

A document posted over the weekend alleged that citizens would no longer be able to attend Kootenai County form of government meetings.

That was fake news.

The printed letter, which several individuals and Facebook groups shared, said the upcoming Optional Forms of Government study commission meeting was “now categorized as NO PUBLIC ALLOWED.”

“There is also a possibility that future Study Commission meetings will remain that way with the public,” said the document, formatted like a news release. “UNABLE to personally attend.”

Communications Manager Nancy Jones said Monday the letter was not an official release from the commissioners.

Jones said the county doesn’t know where the document originated.

“It would have been on letterhead,” Jones pointed out. It also happens to be false. “There is no restriction,” she said of public attendance.

The online document also contends that Commissioners Chris Fillios and Bill Brooks decided to ban public attendance. “That is incorrect,” Fillios said Monday.

“Absolutely false.

There is so much misinformation with the Optional Forms of Government study commission that this doesn’t surprise me.”

Fillios said commissioners haven’t discussed limiting public attendance. Per Stage 4 Idaho Rebounds guidelines, Fillios said the meeting room allows for about 135 people. He said the capacity won’t change unless Gov. Brad Little reverts to a more restricted stage.

“I think that the public has an absolute right to be there,” Brooks said. “They have no right to comment during those meetings because these are not public hearings, but they can attend.”

Comments can be submitted to the commission by email at kcofg@kcgov.us. Brooks said a public hearing will be scheduled in the future by the study commissioners.

The disseminated document came after county officials postponed the Aug. 11 OFG study commission meeting with Sheriff Bob Norris.

In a media release last week from the Sheriff’s Office, officials said the cancellation was due to “a high rate of illness” within KCSO and “the fact that our local hospitals are stressed to capacity.”

“The decision was made jointly between the sheriff and us, mostly between the sheriff and me,” Fillios said. “We felt that if the meeting had a big crowd and it became a spreader event, that could potentially overwhelm the health care system.”

A new date to interview Norris has not yet been set, Jones said, as the next several weeks have already been booked, and the earliest opening is in mid-September.

Brooks believes misinformation about the study commission is generated by those opposed to it “even existing and would like to make a big mess of the process.”

He said disruption of commission meetings is not permitted, and if individuals interfere with the study, “they will be escorted out.”

“Even if everyone gets escorted out, that is fine.

It will continue,” Brooks said.

County officials pointed out that all meetings are live-streamed through the Kootenai County Youtube page.

“If people have questions or concerns regarding county policy and proceedings, feel free to reach out to us or check official social media pages,” Jones said. “If there is a major change, one or more will either have information or a way to contact us.”

CDA /Post Falls Press
By MADISON HARDY Staff Writer
Phony info effort snuffed out – Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press (newsmemory.com)

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