Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Coeur d'Alene - Cattle Barons, Cattle, Sheep and Sacred Cows

Having long been a fan of Westerns, I can't help but see the parallels between Coeur d'Alene and the towns depicted in John Wayne or Clint Eastwood movies.

You know, the town has a boss; usually a rich and ethically challenged rancher. He owns the sheriff and the banker and the mayor. There are the good citizens who constantly challenge the boss but have their property destroyed or worse. They're the cattle. The sheep are played by the extras. Just there to fill space and scurry for cover when a gunfight is looming. The sacred cows are the ambitions of the boss yet to be fulfilled.

To make it a movie, the town folk who care have to get some muscle of their own Either they hire their own gun fighter or the requisite lonely stranger lopes into town. He's never looking for trouble but will always fight for truth and justice if necessary.

We have such a scenario here with a few 21st century twists. We have the boss. A plot twist is that he's being challenged by some newcomers which has created conflict among those he owns. What if the strangers should beat the old man at his own game? Who should we be beholden to?

Well, the boss is a crafty old fellow. He knows how to keep his cards close to the vest. He allows his minions just enough rope to hang themselves if they get too far out of line, but when he wants something he knows how to snug up the noose quite effectively.

Here's how it works in Coeur d'Alene. You have to have lived here awhile and followed local politics with some diligence to follow all the twists and turns of the plot. Let's see if I can make some sense of it for you. The boss owns the resort and a whole lot of the town. One can argue that he owns the mayor and the city council especially since there are two former mayors serving along side the present one. Not being able to eliminate elections, occasionally the mayor and her council have to buck the boss for the sake of their own careers. Example being the boss wanting to close a main street to satisfy his desire to beautify his holdings. Even the sheep took note of this and the protest was such that the effort was nixed.

Okay. There will be another time. There always is.

Meantime the new boss wanna be's came to town with grand plans of their own. Their problem is that to even get started they had to deal with an appendage of the council to get financing so in essence, they too were beholden to the boss.

Meantime the good folks who care, our cattle, keep nipping away at the process, the lack of openness and the outright disregard for law. To no avail. They are belittled, called all sorts of names or ignored all together. Yet still they try.

Suddenly, that lone hombre came loping along and they went to him with a complaint about a member of the councils' urban renewal appendage. It seems the bloke was a banker who's bank lends money for fancy new projects like the newcomers want. Rather than recuse himself from voting on such issues he did so without the proper revelation of his banking connections. Of course this was common knowledge but only the activists seemed to care. The hero, armed with this information, took it to the state attorney general who indeed found evidence of conflict of interest but without enough intent toward wrong doing to bring charges.

As Hub said, that's a stretch. If he didn't know the implications of his position he's as dumb as a cob. But then the rationale is that he loves this town and would do nothing to hurt it. So okay. Hub's point is well taken.

Score one for the town folk and their hero. Why has the boss allowed this to come forth? Well, he does own the paper. Did I mention that? My guess is it's because he wants to resurrect another pet project. He needs his minions to get back in line and remember who's provided them with their lifeline.

The final scenes are yet to unfold. Will the beleaguered member of the urban renewal board resign? I doubt it. Will the boss get the approvals he needs for his project? I doubt that he will not. What will happen to the caring folks that have left the wheel ungreased for a long enough time that even the sheep are beginning to hear it?

In days gone by they'd be pilloried and burned out. We're a tad more civilized than that today. They will continue to be called names and be belittled but they may actually be gaining a foothold. How so? It's an election year for three members of the council, including the mayor. Whoever runs for re-election will be telling as will whoever the challengers may be. They have the attention of their hero, a state senator, and the state attorney general. Hmmm.

I'm not going to forecast the outcome. I don't live in the town. Unless it creeps into the county I have no stake in it. But I sure am looking forward to following this to its conclusion. I'm just grateful at least one paper is keeping us informed. Even if it does belong to the boss.

I vowed a long time ago to steer clear of local issues except for the occasional animal story or some such. But honestly, this is too good to pass up. Script writers, eat your heart out. I haven't even scratched the surface!

I, however, am done. I'm never too sure how accurate the reporting is nor my interpretation of it. I do know that squeaky wheel has yet to be greased and is unlikely to be any time soon.


Anonymous said...

I have stopped chuckling long enough to type! I can tell you what should happen..."throw da bums out". I have, however, lived here long enough to tell you what will happen. The same old ethically challenged group will be re-elected. An apathetic electorate. What I can't explain is why. CU

June Saville said...

Incisive. Sadly, it's a universal plot. The characters and the scenarios are largely the same here - but we're by the sea. Probably the only real difference.
June in Oz

Sansego said...

Awww...I love Coeur d'Alene. Still dream of moving up there some day. But...after reading this post, maybe not! It's a gorgeous town. Too bad it's in Idaho, though.