By MAUREEN DOLAN
COEUR d’ALENE — Heading into the final weekend before Tuesday’s election, the battle lines in the Coeur d’Alene school board election are running deep.
An old Aryan Nations post office box number, campaign sign removals, and another complaint of misuse of school resources for political purposes have peppered an already heated race for the pair of trustee seats up for election in the district.
Local bloggers, social media users and callers to the Press newsroom spent time Thursday speculating and asking questions about a website promoting Zone 2 school trustee candidate, Tom Hamilton, and Zone 3 candidate, Terri Seymour.
They discovered that the site, idahoc4be.org, lists its mailing address as a Coeur d’Alene post office box number once assigned to the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, the white supremacist church once led by Richard Butler, the now deceased leader of the Aryan Nations. The website belongs to Citizens for Better Education, described as a “nonprofit association.”
“I am not a CBE member, nor are they affiliated with the Aryan Nations,” Hamilton told the Press. “Phone numbers get recycled, post office boxes get recycled. It’s just a very unfortunate coincidence.”
Hamilton called public discussion about the post office box number “an utterly ridiculous attempt to try to discredit my campaign.”
There are no individual contact names on the CBE site.
Duncan Koler, a Hayden Lake resident and an outspoken critic of the Coeur d’Alene School District’s International Baccalaureate programs, said Citizens for Better Education is an association of private citizens concerned about many issues involving the school district in Coeur d’Alene, and that he is a member.
The group formally incorporated in January, according to a business filing with the Idaho Secretary of State. Koler has paperwork showing Citizens for Better Education began leasing the post office box in January.
Citizens for Better Education has no formal membership list, and no officers, Koler said.
“It’s private citizens, and nobody’s connected to the Aryan Nations,” he said.
A website for the North Idaho Aryan Nations lists a different Coeur d’Alene post office box as the place to send donations to rebuild the Church of Jesus Christ Christian in a “remote” North Idaho location.
Koler said he was concerned about the City of Coeur d’Alene’s removal from city right-of-ways of 16 campaign signs for Terri Seymour, one of the candidates promoted by Citizens for Better Education.
Koler said it didn’t appear that any signs belonging to Stephanie Powers, Hamilton’s candidate, had been pulled from city property.
Coeur d’Alene Deputy City Clerk, Kathy Lewis, said the removal of signs is complaint-driven, and that an anonymous complaint was left on her office’s voicemail regarding Seymour signs posted on Ramsey Road.
The city enforcement officer collected those signs, and one of Powers’ signs found in a right-of-way on Ramsey also.
Koler also filed a complaint with the Coeur d’Alene School District on Thursday that a Coeur d’Alene teacher had been commenting on the Coeur d’Alene Press website during school hours.
Lake City High School music teacher Tim Sandford admitted that he was in his office, on a break. He checked his email and the news, and didn’t think before posting a comment on the Press site.
“I did do that, and it was wrong,” Sandford told the Press.
Sandford said it was not during instructional time, and that he worked that day from 6 a.m. until about 8 p.m.
“It’s certainly within Mr. Koler’s right to file a complaint,” Sandford said. “All I can do is apologize, and say I will never do it again.”