Tonight is the return of the infamous Optional Forms of Government Study Commission meeting! I hope to see everyone at the meeting tonight, 5:30pm at the Kootenai County Admin Building (in the Commissioner’s meeting room). If you cannot make it I will be live-Telegramming the meeting here: t.me/kcspectator
So much has happened since the last meeting here’s where we left off:
The public hearing brought forth hundreds of individuals to tell the commission what they thought about changing the form of government. (Spoiler: 90% were against.)
The alternates are not allowed to participate past the interviews. Now they’re just pretty table decorations. The ban on participation was moved up from the original schedule because Botting said that Bruce Mattare was a conflict of interest due to Mattare’s announcement that he was running for county commissioner against Chris Fillios. Alternates include Bruce Mattare, Joan Genter, and Cheri Zao.
Even with all but 2 or 3 interviewees saying that changing the form of government was bad, the study commission decided, by a 5-4 vote, to continue moving forward with recommending a change in the form of government.
Phil Ward, Kristen Wing, Dave Botting and Bob Fish have all said that they were tasked to try to find an alternative form of government, NOT to see if Kootenai County NEEDS an alternative form.
The study commission majority (5 to 4 against) decided that they were going to recommend a 5-person board of commissioners plus a county manager.
The county manager will oversee all appointments/removals of advisory board members, be the county main budget officer, and bottleneck all requests made to the county commissioners by the other departments as well as by the residents of Kootenai County.
The study commission has said multiple times that the cost of this change doesn’t interest them and is “outside their purview.”
Study commission member Brian Cleary put together a PowerPoint presentation of everything he heard at the public hearing and put it into a handy deck here. I recommend you go back and watch that video because it was highly informative and he captures the public comments, and the details of the study commission’s recommendations, well.
During the few weeks between meetings, there has been a few interesting developments.
Other Counties Are Currently Having Corruption Issues with Budget Manager Being Directly Under the Commissioners
A friend sent me some links to articles about Utah’s Uintah County where they tried to have the budget officer be removed from the Clerk’s/Auditor’s office and put under the county commissioners, subsequently eliminating all the checks and balances that had been in place. (ß this is one of the EXACT fears that would happen in Kootenai County if a county manager is put into place.) An audit found multiple infractions including:
1. The county misused CARES funds and didn’t adequately document the purchases.
2. The county did not disclose conflicts of interest for elected officials and officers.
3. The county would purchase unnecessary equipment and then change policy afterwards to allow said purchases.
4. The county misused grant money by giving it to “companies owned by certain County officials and their immediate family members.”
Dave Botting is the CURRENT treasurer of Chris Fillios’s County Commissioner campaign, according to the Secretary of State website.
As a reminder, Bruce Mattare announced he was running for county commissioner and Botting said that Mattare should resign as an alternate on the study commission because “any decision he now makes will be politicized.”
Question: If Dave Botting is working for the campaign of Bruce Mattare’s competitor, would that be considered a conflict of interest?
Watch to the September 8th meeting below where Botting confronts Mattare on his politicized "conflict of interest."
Cheri Zao, Democrat, is now a RINO
Alternate Cheri Zao, Democrat, has changed party affiliation and is now running as a Republican candidate for District 5 Representative, seat B, directly competing against Liberty Legislator Tony Wisniewski. This is not necessarily a conflict of interest but just very interesting.