When heads must roll

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Something's got to give. And if that means somebody's got to go, so be it. That's our conclusion after reviewing a forum last Monday hosted by the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners.

Something's got to give.

And if that means somebody's got to go, so be it.

That's our conclusion after reviewing a forum last Monday hosted by the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners.

Before we go further, we applaud Rich Piazza, Todd Tondee and Rick Currie for agreeing to attend the forum, put together by the North Idaho Building Contractors Association and the Coeur d'Alene Association of Realtors. It could not have been easy to endure the cascade of complaints leveled respectfully but emphatically throughout the evening at their Planning and Building Department.

As recent guest columnist Collin Coles pointed out, though, commissioners will earn greater praise if they actually do something about those complaints. In that piece, Coles, a professional planner himself, suggested that the litany of complaints are the same ones raised for the past several years, and that anybody in the private sector would have been run out of business if this level of customer dissatisfaction had been allowed to continue.

After contemplating the many complaints, two startling truths stand out; two strikes that we believe should inevitably lead to a third. The first is that when it comes to decrying the department's arbitrary and unhelpful approach to doing business, criticism comes from both barrels of an unusual shotgun: ardent builders and ardent environmentalists alike. When these disparate interests unhappily cite the same shortcomings, commissioners had better be paying attention.

The second truth is that the developers and builders who spoke out Monday night fully understood that they were putting their livelihoods on the line by criticizing the very department they must go through to remain in business. It is one thing to show up at a meeting like this and show moral support. It is quite another, and much more meaningful, when business people demonstrate how desperate they are for fair and professional treatment from the public servants paid by their tax dollars and fees. In essence, they were all agreeing that things can't get any worse.

The evidence is overwhelming that the overstaffed, undermanaged Planning and Building Department requires leadership change. Commissioners should do the right thing now, and not just because the primary election looms next month.

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