CHEERS ... to Mark Domino.
For 15 months, he stood up to:
l Racial profiling — This all began in late June 2019, with a false report of a Black man prowling cars at the Clarkston Walmart. In fact, Domino, who is African American, worked at Walmart and was opening the doors of his wife’s car.
Rather than scope out the scene, talk to other witnesses or even run Domino’s license plate through a mobile data terminal, two Clarkston police officers began interrogating him.
As is his right, Domino declined to answer their questions. But the officers escalated the situation — getting into a scuffle with Domino, handcuffing him and shocking him with a stun gun.
l Excessive prosecution — City Attorney Todd Richardson filed two criminal charges against Domino — resisting arrest and obstruction of a police officer. Conviction could have placed him behind bars for almost a year.
After presenting Domino with a one-sided plea bargain — plead guilty and live under the threat of a jail sentence during a probationary period — Richardson offered to put the case on hold and dismiss it if Domino avoided anything more serious than a traffic ticket for 90 days.
But there was a kicker: Richardson used his prosecutorial leverage to block Domino from seeking a civil remedy against the city and the police. When the defendant eventually refused, the city prosecutor prepared for trial.
Granted, Domino was never going to collect anything close to the $5 million he sought in a lawsuit.
But Tuesday, he got a $25,000 check and his case dismissed. An educated guess is that the city’s insurance carrier took one look at the history of this case, its political and cultural optics as well as the city’s potential liability — including exposure to a potential federal 1983 civil rights lawsuit — and told them to make the deal.
“This was never about the money for me,” Domino told the Lewiston Tribune’s Kerri Sandaine. “Dismissing the charges is something they could have done from day one. The main thing I wanted was an apology, but instead I was persecuted. This should not have happened, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone else. I just want to thank all of the people who supported me through this crazy ordeal.”
Has Clarkston learned anything from Domino’s “crazy ordeal”?
JEERS ... to Idaho Department of Correction Director Josh Tewalt.
When was he going to level with north central Idaho about a COVID-19 outbreak at the North Idaho Correctional Institution at Cottonwood?
When four inmates showed symptoms during sick call and later tested positive?
When 16 symptomatic inmates were shipped to Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino for medical treatment and monitoring?
How about last week, when five of NICI’s 78 staff members and 104 of its 260 inmates tested positive?
Tewalt’s department waited until Monday, after the father of an NICI inmate had alerted the Lewiston Tribune.
What are the families of those inmates and staff members supposed to think?
For that matter, what does this tell the communities of Cottonwood and Orofino?
Why did it require a distraught parent to get the Idaho Department of Correction to acknowledge a deadly public health threat within its walls?
JEERS ... to Public Health-Idaho North Central District Director Carol Moehrle.
What did her agency know about the COVID-19 outbreak at NICI and when did it know?
You’re left to wonder because the health district said nothing more about the matter Monday than to defer to Tewalt’s department. That’s bound to raise questions about the credibility of the health district’s COVID-19 reporting.
And the health district has said little about moving forward. If anything, in her email to Idaho County Commission Chairman Skip Brandt, Moehrle seemed to downplay the issues: It’s only two or three staffers. Most of the infected people are asymptomatic.
On average, about half of the people who have no symptoms will develop them. Because of false negative results, there will be a need for ongoing testing. What’s being done about that?
Will NICI staff have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment?
What’s being done to prevent the infection from spreading to the broader community?
The last thing anyone needs now is more opacity — or complacency.
JEERS ... to Commissioner Brandt.
Sure, he’s got every right to be outraged at being left in the dark about the coronavirus outbreak at NICI. But leave it to Brandt to make himself — rather than the public health of his constituents — the lead paragraph of the story.
Obviously, Brandt got it wrong a few months ago when he surmised that rural places such as Idaho County would be a “haven” from COVID-19 where it would be “ business as usual.”
Jarred into a new reality, just about anyone else would soberly gather the information, organize the resources and get moving. Instead, Brandt sought out scapegoats, even projecting on the media an unfounded slur that it would engage in fear-mongering:
l “All these numbers are just smoking mirrors — FAKE NEWS — and we can not rely on them.”
l “This is huge for Idaho County (if true) and I suppose will come out in the Tribune rag tomorrow promoting fear.”
When real people and their health are at stake, Brandt should leave his vendettas at home.
JEERS ... to Congressman Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho.
Among Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, there are 27 members of Congress. But only one of them, Fulcher, voted against a package to avoid another federal government shutdown next week.
Instead, he joined 55 House Republicans and one independent who would prefer to burn the house down.
What’s more, Fulcher opposed a package that aims to keep afloat farmers whose markets have been disrupted by the Trump administration’s trade wars as well as provide additional food stamp and school lunch resources for financially strapped families.
Has he got something against struggling farmers and hungry kids? — M.T.