As part of a homeschool civics class comprised of students in the 7th through 10th grade levels, students were asked to write opinion editorials on topics of their own choosing which reflect current themes in governance and policy-making.
Over the course of the next few weeks the class will be tracking the views of and commentary on their op-eds with the goal of generating as much meaningful community engagement as possible.
A prize will be awarded to the student who is most successful at generating meaningful community engagement with their op-ed.
Thanks so much for partnering with us to create this experience for the children and teaching them to be actively involved in the governance of their community!
Evidence Shows Bonner County Commissioners Broke Idaho Code
This fall, the Bonner County Commissioners, led by board chair Steve Bradshaw, appear to have violated section 74-206 of Idaho code. This section of Idaho law is defined as “open meeting law” and specifies that if a public board is discussing public business, the board must discuss it publicly. Bradshaw seems to have led the board in breaking that law.
It is only acceptable for the board to arrange an executive session to respect the privacy of an individual, receive legal advice, hear from insurance/risk management1 representative, or to discuss competitive trade or investments. However, elected officials can use executive sessions to keep public, county business from the people. They can use executive sessions to practice impropriety. They can use executive sessions to commit fraud that the county will never know about. That is why this is so concerning. Officials can shamelessly violate the rules if no one confronts them.
The incident in question begins at a meeting of the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) held on September 19th. During the meeting, Steve Bradshaw suggested that an unqualified topic be taken into executive session. At his suggestion, Commissioner Asia Williams challenged the legality of his proposal. He then responded to her with a harsh tone, unnecessary disrespect, and no answer to her challenge. At the end of the meeting, Bradshaw adjourned for “a session with risk management”.
However, two weeks later, in a meeting on October 3rd, Commissioner Williams stated that the board had discussed a different item of public business in the September 19th meeting. This item was an HVAC system requested by the sheriff totaling a whopping sum of $149,950.00. No mention of this system was made in the meeting on the 19th. So did they talk about a very large public expense in private?2
This may seem small, but it is very important for us as citizens to be present at these meetings. Even if you don’t have the time to attend in person, it is always worth the while to go back and watch the recording. It can help you so much to understand what is happening locally. When you are not active in your community and county, politicians and officials can break the law and go unnoticed. So please, for the sake of this county, hold your local officials accountable.
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1This is permitted so long as you are discussing an upcoming claim with a representative
2 Idaho law states that “It shall be a violation of this chapter (74-206) to change the subject within the executive session to one not identified within the motion to enter the executive session or to any topic for which an executive session is not provided.”
Related Article: What Has Happened In The County Building?