Grievance with the City of Post Falls

Here is the grievance I emailed to the City of Post Falls:


I would like to file a grievance regarding your meeting at 10 am on Monday, November 9th, 2020. Idaho Open Meeting Law was violated. (Idaho Code 74-202, 204) I have also sent a similar letter to the Post Falls Police Department.


I was the only member of the public let in to the meeting held regarding a mask ordinance or mandate. Idaho State Representative Tony Wisniewski was also let in.


The sign above the door to the meeting room stated 125 people max.

Per the Stay Healthy Order Stage 3 by Governor Little (https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/stay-healthy-order-stage3_2020oct27.pdf) “Gathering of 50 or less are still allowed if physical distancing and sanitation requirements in Section 3 of this Order are met.”Stating that only 12 people could be in the meeting is in violation of this, from my understanding.


Also, if the City of Post Falls is following the 20% capacity guideline that I have heard about but have not been able to find in writing - 20% of 125 is 25 people, not 12. If one includes social distancing, there was plenty of physical space to have at least 6 more people in the meeting. You also refused to allow anyone into the open area when you first walk into city hall. You violated Idaho Open Meeting law by not allow the public into that area.


On page 1 of the Idaho Open Meeting Law Manual it states - “Remember, when in doubt, open the meeting.” Having it online is not a full open meeting, even though I do appreciate that when I am not able to physically attend a meeting.


On page 13 of the Idaho Open meeting law Manual it states - “A public agency may adopt reasonable rules and regulations to ensure the orderly conduct of a public meeting and to ensure orderly behavior on the part of those persons attending the meeting.”I would suggest that you go to the Kootenai County Youtube channel and look back to the Panhandle Health Meeting that was held at the county building in July regarding the Mask Mandate.

The number of people was limited, but people were allowed to speak, not just in writing. The time was limited to 3 minutes, and you were asked to leave once you spoke so others could get in.

On page 13 it also states that, “At the very least this means that the public must be permitted to get close enough to the hearing body to hear what is being said.”

You guys violated this when you refused to let anyone into city hall by locking the doors and posting police to block the doors to City Hall. If you had allowed people into the open area inside, and broadcast it on the TV screen in there, you would have met this requirement from my understanding. You can not assume that people have a phone capable of watching the livestream of the meeting.


It is ethically, morally, and legally wrong for you to have a meeting to discuss an ordinance that affects lots of people and businesses, yet you only let one point of view speak at the meeting.

You should have done what the city of Hayden did, they let Panhandle Health speak, and one resident of Hayden speak.


Furthermore, on page 13 of the Idaho Meeting Law Manual it states, “The Open Meeting law does not expressly require the opportunity for public comment.” I am assuming that is why you took written comment only. I think that is a big mistake when you are considering a matter that affect the whole city.


“Any governing body member who knowingly violated a provision of the Open Meeting Law is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $1500.” (Idaho Code 74-208)

Since Mayor Jacobson made the decision to cap the meeting at 12 people, I believe that he should be subject to this fine. This is not the first time he has violated open meeting law, from the city council meetings I have watched online.

Also, look at Idaho Code Section 18-315 - “Every willful omission to perform any duty enjoined by law upon any public officer, or person holding any public trust or employment, where no special provision shall have been made for the punishment of such delinquency, is punishable as a misdemeanor.”


I would like a public written apology/acknowledgement from the city for violating Idaho Open Meeting Code. I would like to have the city write up how they are going to change their procedures for public meetings/hearings going forward, and post it on the city webpage.


“Upon notice of an alleged open meeting violation, the governing body shall have 14 days to respond publicly and either acknowledge the open meeting violation and state an intent to cure the violation or state that the public agency has determined that no violation has occurred and that no cure is necessary. Failure to respond shall be treated as a denial of any violation for purposes of proceeding with any enforcement action.”


I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Summer Bushnell

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