Saturday, March 31, 2007

Stirring The Kroc Pot One More Time

A quick and dirty for the locals. This issue has gotten as muddied as the hole that's being filled for the Kroc Center. I'm asking for some clarification.

If the City swapped the hole in the ground with the Parks Foundation and the Parks Foundation in turn is going to deed the hole to the Salvation Army for the Kroc Center, then why is the City, not the Parks Foundation voting on the transfer of the use agreement - unless the Parks Foundation is a sham Foundation? That it and the city are one and the same with just a name change for expediency.

If my assumption is correct, does that not keep the Idaho constitutional separation of church and state issue front and center? Especially since the Salvation Army has indicated they will hold services in the Kroc Center?

Now I realize I'm getting older and sometimes my mind isn't as nimble as it used to be but the issue still seems so muddied that I'm wondering if that is the intent? So that people like myself who question Coeur d'Alene's ability to raise the current shortfall, what's more the needed monies on an ongoing basis to sustain the facility, will just throw up our hands and go away.

I don't argue that the center would be a boon to the community. I do question the shell games being played to make it possible. Does the end really justify the means? If that is the mind set we should all be leery of what might come next. The next bright idea that comes along where local government needs to flim flam the community to get it through might not be such an attractive one.

12 comments:

Word Tosser said...

This is begining to sound shady...kind of like the pea under the walnut shells..

Mike said...

Mari - I think your question is valid - I asked it, too. I've been assured by the city's attorneys (inside and outside counsel) and the Salvation Army's attorneys that this is completely fine. Essentially the Parks Foundation holds lands in trust that are donated for any number of purposes. They have their own board and make decisions on their own. I know the city staff has worked closely with them on a number of projects to facilitate donations that might not otherwise get done. I asked the questions about the church-state issue and was given a number of examples of how "land swaps" such as these are used all over to assist community projects. Originally I think the idea of using the Parks Foundation was intended to add another layer of clarity to the separation issue, though I now can see certainly how reports and discussions about it can lead people to believe that it's more confusing that way. There's a program running on Channel 19 with Major John Chamness of the Salvation Army that I watched this weekend and I thought he did a good job of explaining how the Army works with governments quite well.

Dogwalkmusings said...

Mike,

What I don't understand is if the Parks Foundation has its own board why is the city council voting on the use transfer? If the city council is the board then the question regarding separation of church and state remains.

Assurance by cousul that all is well doesn't explain the issue. I don't buy into it on blind faith.

Mike said...

Mari,

Here's the paragraph below from the staff report in the council packet. Maybe this will help. Mike Gridley, the city's attorney, was involved in the formulation of this agreement - email him at: mgridley@cdaid.org if you have questions about the legal angles of it. Thanks. mk

"HISTORY: On February 20, 2007 City Council approved a User Agreement and
Covenant Regarding Use ( the Agreement) with the Coeur d'Alene Parks Foundation.
The Agreement identified and made findings regarding community recreational needs,
described the recreational facility that would address these needs and also contained
various duties and responsibilities of the parties to the Agreement regarding the operation
and use of any community recreational facility. The Agreement contains specific
provisions prohibiting unlawful discrimination and also states that no user of the
recreational facility shall be subject to or obligated to engage in any religious or spiritual
activity as a prerequisite for access to or use of the recreational facility. The Parks
Foundation would now like to assign the Agreement to the Salvation Army. The
Salvation Army intends to build a recreational facility in Coeur d'Alene."

Dogwalkmusings said...

Sorry Mike, but this still bothers me a great deal. The following is a cut and paste directly from the Slavation Army website - http:www'salvationarmycda.org:

The Chapel will be the new Salvation Army center for worship in Coeur d’Alene. As such, the other facility components will revolve around the Chapel. This element is number one on the priority list. While there are great needs for the recreational and educational components of this center in Coeur d’Alene, the greatest need of any community is the opportunity to hear the message of Jesus Christ.

It sounds like a church hiding in plain sight - you know if it sounds like a duck, and looks like a duck...

Dogwalkmusings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

Mari - there is definitely a chapel and the Salvation Army - a church - will definitely be offering services and programs. No hiding there. The test is whether there is any obligation or requirement to participate for the public to be involved or use the facility, and there isn't any such requirement for their facility here. They Salvation Army specifically agreed to language strictly prohibiting such requirements. I looked at this issue long and hard and asked a lot of questions before I voted to support it, and I understand the concerns folks have. I respect and support the establishment clause of the constitution, and my research and personal view of the details made me comfortable that the arrangement didn't violate the letter or spirit of the establishment clause. Don't know if we agree on this one, but I always appreciate your viewpoint!

stebbijo said...

Interesting -

"As such, the other facility components will revolve around the Chapel" ... but according to Mike K - "there is no need for the public to be involved or use the facility."

Regardless, the Salvation Army and it's church will have a huge presence here and CDA is not ALL that big. So I suppose - come Christmas I will be hearing more bells and the city will be taking more out of my pocket to oblige them. :-)

Dogwalkmusings said...

Mike,

I still have a few questions regarding the Parks Foundation but I'm going to put it to rest for now.

I do want to thank you for your responses. Obviously you are the only city councilman/public official to do so and I commend you for it.

Bill McCrory said...

Another question is whether the chapel will be restricted to use by only Christian religious organizations or whether non-Christian religious organizations can use it for their services as well. For example, a Jewish or Muslim group might want to conduct services there and could reasonably request that all Christian artifacts be removed. What if Wiccans want to use the chapel? Agreeing not to proselytize is not the same as agreeing to not discriminate against non-Christian religions.

Mike said...

Bill I don't know that I asked your question in that format but I'll ask it. I would think that if a group wanted to rent a room at the facility, because of the policy of non-discrimination as long as they aren't breaking the law that rental would be allowed. But I'll ask the question.

Mari - thanks for your note. I do miss a lot of blog traffic (though I try to read yours) so if I miss something you post please email me about it: mkennedy@cdaid.org.

Cheers!

Bill McCrory said...

Mike,

I didn't say "Rent a room". I said "the chapel." That is one specific room.