COEUR d'ALENE - Coeur d'Alene City Councilman Steve Adams says his attempt to postpone the McEuen Field financial contract pending a nearly 3-year-old court case wasn't a stall tactic aimed at boondoggling the controversial project.
It was a legitimate request because the court case's final verdict could change the City Council's makeup, he said.
Adams' motion - which died Tuesday night 4 votes to 2 - asked the city to hold off on entering into an $11.5 million contract with its urban renewal agency because the 2009 city election challenge lawsuit is scheduled to go before the Idaho Supreme Court in September.
"I thought it had true validity," Adams said of his request, adding it wasn't his goal to be an "obstructionist" or to "agitate" Councilman Mike Kennedy. "This could change the makeup of the council."
The 2009 suit challenged Kennedy's then-five vote win over challenger Jim Brannon on grounds that inadmissible votes had been cast during the election, among other claims.
Kennedy's victory was upheld in 1st District Court in 2010, though his win total was trimmed to three after some illegal votes were tossed from the final tally. Shortly after, the decision was appealed to the ISC.
Adams said now that the case is scheduled for mid-September, the council should wait because the court could overrule Kennedy's victory or order a new election.
Kennedy isn't buying it.
He called Adams' request "a stretch" and "un-serious."
"This is purely about obstructing the project from going forward," he said of the controversial park plan, which has split the council all year. "I have no idea what the next gimmick will be, but I guess we will wait and see."
The McEuen Field topic has divided the City Council since members Adams and Dan Gookin won their seats last November. Every topic related to the estimated $14.2 million project draws debate, and almost always ends four votes to three, with Mayor Sandi Bloem breaking the tie in favor of moving forward with the park project.
But Gookin, who usually sides with Adams, voted against waiting for the ISC decision.
If the court case required waiting for deciding on the McEuen Field project, then every city decision would have to be put on hold until the court case is settled, Gookin said, and that wouldn't be practical.
"I didn't think it was a strong enough reason," he said.
Adams told The Press he didn't consider the 2009 court case in regard to the McEuen Field project until Brannon and Bill McCrory, who unsuccessfully tried to join in the case, brought it to his attention a couple of weeks ago.
Ron Edinger, who supported Kennedy during the 2009 election challenge, voted in favor of Adams' motion. Edinger has voted against moving the project forward since its onset. After Adams' motion failed, the financial agreement between the city and its urban renewal agency, Lake City Development Corp., outlining LCDC's $11.5 million commitment to the park project, passed four votes to three. LCDC approved the agreement during its own meeting Wednesday.
If the McEuen Field project is delayed beyond November 2013, a new council could be seated as all four pro-project incumbents are up for re-election.
While Adams said it wasn't a delay tactic, Kennedy said it was.
"A Hail Mary pass," Kennedy called the attempt.