On Wednesday I read two articles in the Coeur d'Alene Press with wide-eyed incredulity. Apparently County Commissioners Currie and Piazza have decided to cast all modicum of the truth to the wind and express their opinions and "concerns" about the proposed 2008 Comprehensive Plan. These politicians now enter an arena upon which they know nothing and contributed nothing. Why do I say such things? Well, let's review the facts surrounding the research, writing and public participation for the three years it took to get this plan to its latest version, you know ... the one that has been on the commissioners' collective desks for 15 months now!
We started with the visioning exercises conducted by Kezziah Watkins (folks who do focus groups). That was in 2006. Nobody named Piazza or Currie attended those workshops. OK, they were busy - maybe not even elected yet.
Next came hundreds of hours of interviews with groups like the EPA, KMPO, Fish & Game, DEQ, the Cd'A Tribe, the highway districts, historical society, educators, the airport folks, and on and on. Still, no Currie and no Piazza.
Then came the 100-plus public meetings, presentations, and "road shows" where hundreds of citizens expressed their ideas. Nope, no Currie and no Piazza there. Then came the writing sessions, sometimes held until late at night by the P & Z members with county staff - again, nary a BOCC member in attendance. During 2007-2009 when various drafts of the plan were written and submitted to the BOCC, both Currie and Piazza admitted to NEVER READING THEM - did you get that? THEY NEVER READ THE PROPOSED PLAN(S)!
So, you the reader wants to know - did the BOCC give guidance, set an agenda - uhmm, no, not that either. The truth is that absent Todd Tondee's participation, neither of the other "concerned" commissioners ever did anything to direct the process, participate in a vision, write the document, research the land use principles or engage in dialog with the P & Z Commission for all three years that I served. They certainly asked no questions of us even when the P & Z Commission insisted on briefing them as to our progress.
To add insult to injury, Mr. Currie now ruminates that he "doesn't want to end up in court because of this plan." Well, sir, I tried to give you case law, statutes and opinions from local attorneys, (including myself who has practiced law for 25 years and, I may add, is no dummy) and you could have cared less. Not only did you refuse to read what I provided, but you also ignored every request to get additional legal input into the plan. So, I went to attorneys in the community and Jodie Bieze went to economists and land use experts and we got more data, which you ignored too.
Yet, you have the temerity to tell the public that you are on the job. Neither of you has the first clue about law, economics, land use or what constitutes something "regulatory." And, as to whether everybody "got a chance to voice their opinions," perhaps showing up and speaking to these folks might have allayed your fears. Oh, wait, maybe those weren't the "right" folks and just maybe you want "their" opinions before committing yourselves.
Groucho Marx said it right: "Politics is the act of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."
I say you need to stop grandstanding and pretending, meet with the current P & Z Commission and Scott Clark and get the plan done. This county is too precious to the rest of us.
Kathlene Kolts was a Kootenai County Planning Commissioner from 2006 to 2009.