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Notes Before We Begin

There has been an overwhelming about of meetings this week and I haven't been able to watch them all. The most important ones, obviously, are going to be the Panhandle Health meetings, the CDA School District special board meeting, and the city council meetings. I didn't write individual emails for each meeting because we're all feeling a little bit inundated and exhausted by social media, emails, and just plain LIFE. I did want to call out some tidbits from a few of the meetings I've attended this week; if you or someone you know would also like to attend these meetings in person I'd be happy to take some of the meetings off my plate. :D

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Notes from the meetings that I've watched, in person or online.

  • Panhandle Health Board of Trustees Meeting 11/19/20
    • The board voted 3-2 for a 60-day mask mandate for ALL 5 counties in the Panhandle Health District.
    • Walt Kirby recused himself because he's only on the board for a little over a month and feels so pressured to make a decision one way or another that he's taken himself out of the vote all together.
    • Chairman Marlow Thompson didn't need to vote because there was no need for a tiebreaker. If his vote counted, he would have also voted FOR a mask mandate.
    • Jai Nelson made it VERY clear that if anyone on the board didn't vote for a mask mandate they should recuse themselves, leave the board, and find someone who would vote for it. 
    • Marlow Thompson was asked during the break how they intend to enforce this mandate (which is a misdemeanor) to which he replied, "enforcing is not our concern."
      • Side note: Both our outgoing and incoming sheriffs have said they cannot and will not enforce a mandate.
    • Received an update from Glenn Bailey that the Idaho Association of District Boards of Health met on 11/10 for their bi-monthly meeting. One of the topics was preparation for the 2021 Legislative Session and the discussion centered around hiring a lobbyist "to ensure public health has a voice with the legislature." Next steps is to find out how much a lobby group would cost, who would pay for that, and who that group would report to.
    • There was a Panhandle Health Legislative/County Commissioners meeting right before this meeting and a few local legislators/commissioners stayed for this discussion:
      • Tony Wisniewski
      • Peter Riggs
      • Doug Okuniewicz
      • Bill Brooks (over Zoom)
  • Panhandle Health Legislator/County Commissioners Meeting 11/19/20
    • Meeting to introduce local legislators and commissioners to what Panhandle Health is responsible for in the district.
    • Presentations included the health district history, an overview of the Health Services Administration, and Environmental Health Programs.
      • One thing that was called out was the Septic Permit Fee Reduction. Fee reduction was approved by trustees in the September meeting; will save developers potentially thousands upon thousands of dollars.
    • Legislators and Commissioners in attendance are:
      • Tony Wisniewski
      • Peter Riggs
      • Doug Okuniewicz
      • Mary Souza (over Zoom)
      • Paul Amador (over Zoom)
      • Ron Mendive (over Zoom)
      • Bill Brooks(over Zoom)
  • Kootenai County Commissioners' Status Update 11/16/20
    • Rathdrum City Council just approved 40-acre urban renewal district which includes a portion off Meyer Rd. Come to find out that only half of Meyer Rd. is actually annexed into Rathdrum, the other is a part of the county. Resolution to annex the other half of Meyer Rd. into the City of Rathdrum is with County Legal right now, will put this on the Business agenda when resolution is complete.
    • Parks & Waterways Dept. (Nick Snyder) will be finishing up the last 2 priorities from 2020: finishing the proposed No Wake Zone buoys in Honeysuckle Bay on Hayden Lake AND in front of Camp Cross on Lake CDA. Too early to give priorities for 2021; new Sheriff needs to have a chance to weigh in.
      • If residents have questions, comments, or complaints about the parks and/or waterways, they need to be directed to Nick Snyder of the P&W Dept., or KCSO.
    • 2020 Advisory Board appointments will be finished by the end of December. There have been multiple applications for every open position and the board chairs have been pleased with the applicant's experiences. Appointments will be discussed and approved by board over the next 6 weeks at Status Updates meetings.
      • The Alternate Form of Government Study that passed the Commissioners through Resolution 2020-69 will begin appointments in January. Bill Brooks is still working through bylaws and won't have it done until then. Nanci Plouffe, Senior Business Analyst, who handles all appointments, has about 6 people who have mentioned interest in sitting on that board already. If you would also like to add your name to the "potentials" list, email Nanci at 
  • Kootenai County Board of Commissioners Elected Officials 11/18/20
    • Sheriff Wolfinger is asking to increase drivers license fees by $5 due to having had supported the transportation department for a while and this is a way to recoup some of that money. The Sheriff is trying to make it user supported, not taxpayer supported.
    • Chris Fillios attended a legislator working group led by Jim Addis on Tuesday, 11/17, and he gave an update about some of the topics coming out of that discussion:
      • Unfunded mandates. These mandates are costing money but no one can produce numbers about how much they cost because every government entity uses different buckets of funds. There is nothing consistent between the counties. This discussion led into the idea of proposing a bill that would require consistent financial reporting among government entities across the state but, as the elected official department heads of this BOCC meeting mentioned, there's no way that every government entity could make their budgets 100% consistent because every county/entity is different. 
      • Health District Board of Trustees. As we all know, not all health board members are of the medical fields and they are NOT all elected positions. There is talk about proposing legislation that changes the Idaho State law 39-414 - Powers and Duties of [Health] District Board to have the health board make recommendations about public health to the Board of County Commissioners, and then the BOCC has final say over decision vote. It solves the idea and controversy around the health board not all being commissioners and not elected, and not all elected commissioners are medical professionals. As someone who wants Jai Nelson off the Panhandle Health Board as fast as I can blink, I feel like this is a good compromise for the health professionals vs. elected officials argument that has been going on in Kootenai County since June.
      • Reducing some misdemeanors to infractions, specifically with land use and solid waste misdemeanors. Chris Fillios doesn't think those changes are necessary, "We don't go out hunting for fines, we only investigate when the complaints come to us in writing, typically from a neighbor."
      • Resort Tax. Looking to increase the tax. Chris Fillios says, "the more we can distribute tax burden to a wider base, the better the proposal."
      • Fillios said all Kootenai legislators seemed to be at the working group except Mary Souza and Paul Amador.
  • Coeur d'Alene City Council Meeting 11/17/20
    • Teresa Runge was appointed to the CDA Arts Commission.
    • The Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County is asking for approval of an extra $50,000 to expand Childcare & Academic Support Program with CARES funds (CDBG-CV funds.) Because of added academic support and childcare due to the school district's ever-changing schedules. The B&G Club has already received $199,675 in CARES funds in March and $247,124 in September but this new ask is specifically for the added support staff in the academic area. Motion passes.
    • CDA has a COVID Small Business Grand Relief Fund to the tune of $340,000. At this time, only $180,000 has been allocated, and the city has until December 1st to approve businesses to receive funds. In order to apply for the funds, there are 3 documents on the website that have to be filled out before filling out the application but small businesses can still apply. There are a few stipulations to be approved:
      • Committee prefers small businesses that impact, or have a hand in, youth.
      • No video training programs have been approved.
      • Start up businesses don't qualify through the State.
    • Public Hearing: 7278 N Atlas Rd, 7.69 acres, wants to be annexed into the city under R-8 zoning. It's the only piece of property in the surrounding area that ISN'T annexed, and zoned R-8. The property has designs to have up to 42 homes on it; the R-8 zoning would allow up to 61 houses but developer wants to keep it at 42.
      • There has been one ask of the council for the future, to maybe include the nearby schools when asking all the departments if this rezone would be ok. 
      • Motion passes
  • Coeur d'Alene School District Special Meeting 11/19/20
    • Board members voted to ratify the three decisions that Superintendent Cook made last week: Middle Schools go to orange category blended learning, Venture High School is in the red category and is fully online, and NExA is in the red category and is fully online with the goal of returning to the elementary schedule on 11/30.
    • The Covid dashboard will be changing on the website. We got a preview of the Excel spreadsheet version of the information that will be on the site and it's pretty in-depth. The new dashboard will list out the new positive cases by week and month. The total cases will be by school, by school level, and all-up district level. It will also show the positive cases vs. the people in quarantine. A snapshot of that Excel spreadsheet shown in the meeting is here.
    • There was a long, sometimes heated, discussion about the elementary schools going to a hybrid schedule in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the best way to handle the children's safety from the Cov., and how that lines up with the children's all-up safety which includes safety outside of school and their social & mental health. This lines up with what Dr. Carroll-Ohmes had said at the the 10/26 special meeting. Jennifer Brumley summed it up perfectly when she said, "This is a matter of us looking at the entire gambit of what is affecting our children and what is best for our kids, and as a trustee, it is not to weigh this community's risk factor of catching Covid. It's to weigh all of it and what I'm hearing today is our kids need to be in school 4 days a week. Because there's more at risk for their lives and their future than what Covid is presenting today."
    • Nothing was decided about elementary schools today; the new Covid dashboard should be up on the website some time next week.
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