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March 2, 2021


  • Background surrounding yesterday's KCBOCC status update meeting and Alternative Forms of Government Study Commission bylaws.
  • Next steps in the government process and general timeline.
  • Actions for you.
  • Notable quotes from the commissioners.

Bylaws for Study Committee to Report Back on Findings

Yesterday was the big day for the Kootenai County Commissioners, seeing a first draft of the bylaws for a committee that will be checking into whether the county needs an alternative form of government. This is the first time anything regarding this committee has been discussed since the resolution to FORM the committee was put in place last October. This is Bill Brooks’ pet project, and he has spent the last 5 months putting together a draft of committee bylaws to give direction on what this group is supposed to do.
Fun fact: The last time the question about a commission “manager” was put to the voters was in 2012 when Jai Nelson was a commissioner. (The time before that was in 1996. They both failed at the polls.)

Background on Current Governmental Alternative Campaign

Bill Brooks brought up the idea of looking into alternative form of governments on October 19, 2020, wanting to form a committee to research and interview people to see if a 3-person commissioner form of government was the best way to run the county. The next day, at the weekly Commissioner Business Meeting, a resolution was discussed and voted upon, Resolution 2020-69, to form this committee. Since that time Brooks has been working on the bylaws, continuously pushing back its completion date at every status update meeting. Finally, Brooks said that they bylaws were in a decent-enough form that he would bring them to the table for the first round of discussion at the Commissioner Status Update meeting yesterday, March 1st.

Bylaws on the Committee around Alternative Forms of Government

When the agenda went out for this meeting, attached were the draft bylaws that took Bill Brooks 5 months to form. There was a lot of uproar within the community about not only the bylaws but what this document entails; although a list of other types of government in included at the top, the focus is definitely put upon a County Manager or County Executive position.

I urge you to read the bylaws for yourself; Brooks said that they weren’t going to go through the document line by line right now, “we’ll do that later.” I don’t really understand the point of adding it to the agenda for this particular meeting if they weren’t going to discuss the document itself.

Next Steps in Government Process

  • Each commissioner will take a look at this draft and will reconvene next Monday, 3/8, either with a special meeting or something else to discuss issues/changes in a public setting. It may be a long meeting because there are A LOT of points that are unclear regarding direction of the committee.
  • Final vote on the approval of the bylaws will have to take place at a regular Wednesday business update meeting.
  • Formation of the committee will have to go through an approval process like the bylaws. I’m assuming it’ll be in the same format as with any other commissioner-led committee where each commissioner will recommend 3 people to sit on the committee.
  • It is assumed that the committee will need at least 6 months to interview “key stakeholders in the community” and hold town halls for the public to form a recommendation.
  • Report and recommendation will be brought back to the commissioners.
  • If there is an alternative form of government that is recommended, the commissioners will start discussing ballot language first at a Monday status update meeting and finalized/voted upon at a Wednesday business meeting. If there are multiple rounds of draft language this whole process could take 2-3 weeks.
  • Ballot language will be added to next available local election.

Actions for You

  • Reach out to the commissioners and give them your thoughts about alternative forms of government.
  • Start showing up to ALL meetings that have this committee or discussion on the agenda.
  • Continue to inform your family, friends, and neighbors throughout this whole process because it’s easy to get burnt out and check out from everything that’s going on.
  • I will continue to watch these meetings and let you know when these items are put on the agenda. Forward those emails to everyone you know so they stay in the loop.

Notable quotes from the commissioners

Brooks had more speaking time so I put his in bullet point form.
Bill Brooks
  • I believe it’s a major responsibility of any commissioner to attempt to improve the conditions in Kootenai County.
  • A lot of people are just plain afraid of new ideas. Some will attack any new idea out of ignorance or self interest.
  • Open, honest debate of ideas is the hallmark of good government. Any attempt to stifle or prohibit debate must be seen as the true tyranny.
  • Commissioners may not discuss business outside of the meeting setting, otherwise it’s illegal. That’s a bad form of government. It’s like having 3 CEOs of any corporation, you will not find that in any place in America, business or industry.
  • This form of government is antiquated.
  • All I’ve done is offered an idea, the study commission will study those [forms of government outlined by the state legislature, included in the bylaws], and give YOU, the citizens a chance to vote on those things. And if you don’t like them, vote them down.
  • We want to let you know what the potential is with different forms of government and then let you make the decision.
  • These [bylaws] are just a draft. I want us to work together and change these in a public setting until they become good bylaws. I think it’s premature to start going line by line today, let’s do that at another time, another place, with the public in attendance so they can see what’s going on.
  • I’m opposed to mandates, mask mandates, any type of mandates.
Leslie Duncan
I didn’t vote for this study in the first place. I just don’t think that it’s a good idea to change this form [of government] into having elected positions, not going to be accountable to the people; they’re going to be accountable to 1 individual and so I take exception with the whole concept of this study. At this point I think that it will fail; I believe that no matter what is put on the ballot it will fail because this day in age of all times I believe that people want to elect direct representatives, and even this board has said we will have elected officials on the Panhandle Health board, the way it is set up now instead of appointed people. So in keeping with that frame that’s kind of where I’m at with this.
Chris Fillios
If the study commission goes through this and concludes that the best form of government is the one we already have, so be it, nobody change. If they conclude that an alternative form is a better form for a county of this size it’s going to be very specific as to what that will look like and that’s what you will get to vote on.
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