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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

As Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro III notoriously said of being Mayor, “You come in in the morning and they bring you a big plate of [crap] to eat. So you grit your teeth and just when you get finished … they’re at the door with a bigger plate of [crap].”

Coeur d’Alene is decidedly not Baltimore of the late 1960s, but still, being Mayor is not an easy job.

This week, Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem will give her perspectives on what’s going on in her fine city.  For better or worse, a lot of what has been on Mayor Bloem’s mind lately has been on our mind too: the Dike Road Trees, McEuen Park, Tubbs Hill, and the Spokane River. City Council candidates at the KEA forum a few weeks ago got to give their candidate perspectives.

The non-candidate Mayor may provide some different perspectives.

In any event, Mayor Bloem is always a gracious and engaging speaker, and we’re happy to have her speak at this week’s Lunch and Learn. As always, noon, 1st and 3rd Thursdays, at the Iron Horse on Sherman.

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A great presentation today by Peter Grubb of ROW Adventures about the Lochsa megaloads. As promised, here is a quick follow-up. First, in response to a question as to “what standard” the hearing examiner would use to make his decision, the “general” standard is given in the IDAPA rule 39.03.09.100 (pdf) (our emphasis added) :

100.RESPONSIBILITY OF ISSUING AUTHORITY.

01. Primary Concerns. The primary concern of the Department, in the issuance of overlegal permits, shall be the safety and convenience of the general public and the preservation of the highway system. (4-5-00)
02. Permit Issuance. The Department shall, in each case, predicate the issuance of a overlegal permit on a reasonable determination of the necessity and feasibility of the proposed movement. (4-5-00)

Of course, the applicant for a SHT* load needs to comply with all of ITD’s other regulations as well. Including the “10-minute rule,” buried grammatically in IDAPA 39.03.16.100.01 (pdf) (our emphasis):

01. Overlegal permits will not normally be issued for movements which cannot allow for the passage of traffic as provided in IDAPA 39.03.11, “Rules Governing Overlegal Permittee Responsibility and Travel Restrictions,” Subsection 100.05, except under special circumstances when an interruption of low volume traffic may be permitted (not to exceed ten (10) minutes) or when adequate detours are available.

Thanks again to Peter Grubb for a great presentation, and his courage and persistence in taking on this fight.

*Super Huge Truck

Also as promised, here’s the video Peter suggested:

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We continue to watch in horror as the gulf oil spill expands and consumes beaches, marshland, birds, fish, and other wildlife. Even when the spill finally stops, the gulf region is facing years and years of cleanup.

Those of us in North Idaho can relate as well as anyone south of Prince William Sound, Alaska.  Environmentally, the oil mess in the gulf is not unlike the mining mess in the Coeur d’Alene basin. Contamination spread for miles by natural currents of water. Brought on, in no small part, by under-regulated industrial operations.

Of course, the contamination of our region was decades in the making and decades ago. The cleanup here will continue for decades. Currently the EPA is considering an update to the Superfund “Record of Decision” for the upper Coeur d’Alene basin, which is intended to guide cleanup plans for the next 50 to 90 years.  (That’s right – another 50 to 90 years of cleanup in the upper basin. Meanwhile, we try to remain hopeful that the lower basin will get some attention prior to the year 2060. )  Anne Dailey, from the EPA’s office in Seattle will join us this Thursday, noon, at the Iron Horse to discuss the “ROD Amendment,” as it is called.

Our thoughts go out to our fellow Americans along the gulf of Mexico. Welcome to our world.

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We aren’t taking it personally, but we didn’t receive our invitation by the County Commissioners “to the County’s development and construction communities” to attend a “Community Development Forum” on Monday evening, April 5th, at 5 pm. 

Given the lack or progress on the Comprehensive Plan, the failure to address dysfunctional hearing procedures, and major functional failings in the site disturbance and flood control ordinances, we’d definitely be interested in “this important opportunity”  to “share and hear the constructive thoughts and ideas of others regarding the building process here in Kootenai County.” 

We’re probably not the target audience, but the Commissioners promise “an open atmosphere for the community to openly share,” so maybe we’ll attend anyway.

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The candidates who showed for the KEA forum this afternoon acquitted themselves quite nicely, with mostly thoughtful answers to mostly difficult questions. Only challenger Dan Gookin failed to show, claiming in a letter to Kootenai Environmental Alliance the he had a prior engagement. 

As moderator, I thought things went well, but perhaps too well.  On the core substance, there seemed to be a lot of agreement among the candidates, and therefore maybe not enough distinction between candidates on this particular set of issues.  I thought the incumbents tended to be more knowledgeable on some issues, but that is certainly to be expected. Stylistically, I thought a few candidates did very well in our forum, and a few didn’t. (No, I won’t say which.) Incumbent councilman Mike Kennedy mentioned his Conservation Voters for Idaho endorsement, but the rest of the candidates weren’t particularly shy about touting environmentalist leanings either, which was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

We asked prepared questions about: sustainable development, opportunities for re-development, the education corridor design, water quality permitting for the sewage treatment plant, the independence point parking lot, and Coeur d’Alene Lake. An audience member submitted a question about conflicts of interest. 

I thought there was an interesting, even surprising, consensus on a number of items.  Sure, we need to protect our neighborhoods, and Lake, and aquifer, and Tubbs Hill, et cetera.  But most of the candidates also spoke strongly about the hillside ordinance, and the need to protect our hillsides from development. And all the candidates tended to agree that the City will simply need to do what it needs to do to have the City’s sewage treatment plant comply with the tight new Clean Water Act requirements on the Spokane River likely to be promulgated soon. However, there were some subtle differences as to how candidates thought improvements to the plant would be financed.

In all, it was a good experience, I think — for the candidates to talk about difficult but highly relevant issues, and for the audience to hear directly what the candidates had to say.  We wish the candidates the best of luck, and may there be a strong turnout of environmental voters on November 3rd.

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We received a letter today from Dan Gookin, a candidate for City Council in Coeur d’Alene.  According to the letter, Mr. Gookin has a “prior speaking commitment” and will not be attending the candidate forum scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) at noon at the Iron Horse. In the letter, Mr. Gookin said he “wants to share with you my opinions and ‘green thoughts’ for the future of Coeur d’Alene”  and listed a number of positions on a range of environmental issues in the City.

While we appreciate the advance notice of his non-participation, and appreciate his positions, the point of the forum is to share his “green thoughts” with our members and members of the public. We’re disappointed in his decision not to participate, and we believe he will miss a great opportunity.

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Maybe getting a head start on Saturday’s “International Day of Climate Action,” a group of pranksters pulled a fast one on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, holding a fake press conference to announce the fake news that the Chamber of Commerce was changing its stance on pending global warming legislation in Congress.  The Washington Post reports quite the scene at the National Press Club with “two men in business suits shouting at one another, each calling the other an impostor and demanding to see business cards.”

UPDATE:  The video is here.

Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been under attack by its own membership for its hard-core opposition to the legislation, with high-profile companies like Apple and several big utilities quitting the Chamber, companies like Nike quitting the Chamber’s Board, and huge companies like Exxon, Shell, and GE expressly disclaiming or otherwise distancing themselves from the Chamber’s position. Several local Chambers of Commerce have taken different positions on climate change as well.

More locally, our friends at Idaho Conservation League and the Sandpoint Transition Initiative are holding a “Save Our Snow” rally this Saturday at 1pm at the Sandpoint city beach. The rally, along with others worldwide, will focus attention on the number 350 — as in parts per million — the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. We’re at 387 now.

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