If you think the 2009 November elections are over, you are sadly mistaken. Since the number of people that actually voted in the Coeur d'Alene elections was only a tiny fraction of registered voters, I believe that most people don't care about the results. After all, the elections were nothing more than selecting city council, the mayor, and a jail bond. Who really cares about that stuff?
But in a quick rundown, there were two clear sides: incumbents versus challengers. The incumbents are (generally) well liked individuals in the community. Many of the incumbents have run and lost in previous elections. Yet the weak economy and changes in the national political atmosphere favored the challengers. The challengers were supported by a small (yet vocal) group that has criticized Mayor Bloem and the city council over the past several years. They've actively opposed the new downtown library and the Kroc center (one of the challengers referred to the Kroc pool as the "pee pool"). They all ran on one principal: vote out the incumbents.
The incumbents all won. It was a close race. In the closest contest, Jim Brannon lost to Mike Kennedy by five votes. Since the difference was less than one tenth of one percent, Brannon was entitled to a recount. However, instead of accepting a recount, Brannon hired a lawyer and sued the following: The City of Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai County, Mayor Bloem, each individual on the Cd'A City council, the county clerk and the county clerk’s entire staff, the city clerk, and (oddly enough) John & Jane Doe A through Z.
I do not fully understand the rationale behind the lawsuit (except perhaps sour grapes), but most of the reasoning offered by Brannon's supporters has been their opinion that current voting laws need to be changed. They dispute that no one had to show ID at the polls (even though Idaho law does not require ID to be presented). They objected to military personnel serving overseas and US residents currently living outside the states participating in the election (despite the fact that US law allows these persons to vote). Their goal is not to unseat Mike Kennedy and place Brannon into that council seat. The objective is to throw out the whole election – including the races that exceeded the one tenth of one percent difference. They want a redo. They still want to get rid of the mayor and the council members that won reelection.
It's been an entertaining ride to watch. And in the most recent turn of events, Judge Simpson set a $40,000 bond and gave Brannon one week to post that amount to continue on with the case. Judge Simpson also dismissed all defendants except for Mike Kennedy. (for the record, Brannon's lawyer has pursued this type of case before - and lost)
In the wake of Judge Simpson's ruling, Brannon's supporters have cried foul. They are accusing corruption on all levels - including the city, Judge Simpson, Idaho's Attorney General, and Idaho's Secretary of State. One of these individuals even went the extra mile to allege that Judge Simpson might be suffering from marital issues of drug abuse. (you can read that full and epic comment here) And in a recent turn of crazy, Brannon and his lawyer are appealing Judge Simpson's ruling (even though the case has yet to go to trial) under the claim that Judge Simpson is biased. It appears this election is far from over.
Someone asked if there was a simple explanation to the different factions involved. There is no such thing as simple; as you can see, my sweetened condensed version was a 500 word slog. I thought it might be easy to trim the events of the past four months into a simple explanation. But the more I dumbed it down the more it sounded like a children's story - like one of those colorfully illustrated books with little more than a picture and a few sentences per page.
So I wrote it out in that fashion (minus the cute illustrations and happy ending). There is a moral... I'll let you figure that one out. Names were changed for obvious reasons. Here it is my kiddie story debut:
Brandon Wants to be Great.
When Brandon was growing up, his parents always told him he was special. But no one else thought he was special.
He worked hard.
He helped people who were less fortunate less fortunate.
He always did the right thing, even when nobody was looking.
Then he met some new friends. They thought he was special. They even told him he could be great.
So Brandon aspired to greatness. But when his neighbors chose the person they wanted to be great, they picked someone else. They picked Mickey.
But Brandon’s friends still thought he was special.
Brandon’s mom taught him that the best cure for failure was trying again.
Brandon wanted his neighbors to think he was great.
So one day, Brandon called all of his neighbors together so that he could announce that he was going to be great. His neighbors gathered at the park to hear the news, but Brandon wasn’t there. He stayed home.
“What if I’m not great?” thought Brandon. “What if they think Mickey is better than me?”
But Brandon’s friends encouraged him. They told him that Mickey wasn’t great. They told him that Mickey was a horrible person and said all kinds of mean things about Mickey. Brandon believed them.
Brandon began to tell his neighbors the things his friends said about Mickey.
He stopped working hard. He stopped doing the right thing. He stopped helping people who needed help. He was consumed with a need to be great.
And soon the day came when all of Brandon’s neighbors gathered to choose who they thought was great.
One by one, Brandon’s neighbors made their choices. Everyone was quiet. Once every person was counted, the announcement was made: Mickey was still great!
That made Brandon sad.
No one told him to try again. Instead, his friends said the counters were wrong. They said the counters were lying.
Brandon was confused. He didn’t know what to do.
When Brandon talked to his neighbors, half of them said that they wanted Brandon to be great. But the other half wanted Mickey to be great.
“Maybe the counter was wrong,” Brandon thought.
Brandon went to the counter and asked if the choices made by Brandon’s neighbors could be recounted.
The counter nodded his head. Yes.
Brandon was excited. He went and told his friends that the choices could be tallied again. There was still a chance that he was great.
But his friends said that a recount was a bad idea. They told him the only way he would ever be great is if he fought for it.
Brandon’s friends told him that the counter was friends with Mickey, and the counter would never admit that Brandon was the true winner.
So they began to attack Brandon’s neighbors. One neighbor was too tall, and another was too short. One neighbor had a bad haircut, and another was wearing ugly clothes. One neighbor was on vacation, and another was sick. One neighbor had just moved in, and another was about to move away.
Brandon’s friends created two groups of people: neighbors who thought Brandon was great, and neighbors who should not be allowed to choose.
Then they started teasing Mickey and the counter. They said mean things about Mickey’s friends.
Soon, Brandon’s neighbors stopped thinking that Brandon was great. They no longer wanted Brandon to win.
That made Brandon sad.
But his friends just laughed. They said that Brandon could not be defeated. They told him that he could be great if he went to court and demanded that the law make him great.
Brandon went to court with his friends. The counter was there. Mickey was there with his friends. Brandon told the law that the counter was wrong when Brandon’s neighbors chose who they wanted to be great. He said that Mickey was a bully and did not deserve to win greatness. Brandon repeated all of the mean things his friends told him to say.
The law asked for proof.
This made Brandon’s friends mad. They said they didn’t need proof. But no one believed them.
Brandon’s friends told him that the law was friends with Mickey too. They told him that life was unfair. They encouraged him to keep fighting.
“Nobody cares about us.” They said.
So Brandon and his friends continued to say mean things about Mickey. They also started to say mean things about the counter and the law.
This made Brandon’s neighbors sad.
They remembered Brandon used to work hard, but now he only worked to embarrass Mickey. They remembered Brandon used to help people, but now he ignored people that needed help. They remembered Brandon used to do the right thing, but now he only made bad choices.
Brandon wasn’t great. His friends were horrible people. But he believed that they were good friends. He believed them when they said that they were the only ones who knew the truth.
Meanwhile, Brandon’s neighbors picked Mickey to be great. And Brandon was never great because of the things his friends said.