As the Bonner Turns

by Edgar J. Steele

June 29, 2001

You may have heard that, following a 2-day (!) preliminary hearing, the charge against JoAnn was reduced to a misdemeanor and she was released from jail without conditions. This news pleasantly surprises me, because I honestly  believed she would be transferred to a "facility" of some sort for an indefinite period. 
It is still going to be a struggle for her to regain custody of her kids, but that is now a very real possibility.
Robinson really should drop the charges altogether at this point, but likely won't.  JoAnn still faces the possibility, though not the likelihood, of serving additional time.  This family has endured enough from the system which has been acting just "for the children," of course.
I have left word that the fund we have accumulated for her (about $27,000 now) is available whenever she wants it.  I will not, of course, transfer it through intermediaries.  I think it best to stand off from her for the time being, until she has an opportunity to come up to speed concerning what has really been going on.  I trust that others will see to that.
I have been asked about the video and the pictures that good ol' Phil released, as a part of his campaign to convict JoAnn in the court of public opinion.  They depicted quite a mess, sure enough.  Remember, however, that they were taken several days after the kids ended their so-called "standoff," during which all those dogs were kept cooped up in the house with them.  Remember, also, that the house had already been pretty thoroughly searched by the time the pictures were taken.  One of the more telling clues is the chair upended in the midst of all that garbage.  Good ol' Phil would have you believe the house always looked like this.  Sure, Phil - (chorus) thousands wouldn't believe you, but we do.
The oldest daughter, Erina, testified.  She wore her natty blue uniform, an old trial lawyer trick used by us at every opportunity to enhance the apparent credibility of witnesses.  Of course, didn't good ol' Phil allege that she was mustered out due to "stress fractures" in her legs?  So, was she then merely impersonating a member of the armed services the past two days?  Appears so.  What else was she lying about?  Kathryn, the second-oldest also testified and disagreed with Erina on a number of counts.  Where she did give credence to Erina's story, Kathryn pointed to "doing for Dad" as being the reason for letting things go.  Well, how about that?  Just what JoAnn told me when I met with her and just what so many of us have been arguing all along.
Erina said Mom spent the family money on liquor.  What money?  And, if they only left the property once a year, that must have been a pretty impressive beer run.  JoAnn never struck me as showing signs of alcohol abuse.
If the house was such a mess, why didn't Erina clean it up?  She claimed to break ice in the lake to laundry in the winter, after all, so what was a little picking up and sweeping?  She said she took heated water down with her to mix with the wash water so her hands didn't get so cold.  Heated where and with what?  Thought the house was so cold?  Never mind that they would all have frozen to death in the North Idaho winters without heat.
There is more, but I just don't buy it.
Look.  JoAnn almost certainly left a good deal to be desired when it came to housekeeping.  Nobody's ever disputed that.  However, she didn't deserve to be arrested for it, charged with a felony and kept in jail for a month while her kids were shuttled around to various foster homes.
And the family didn't deserve to be so viciously broken up just a couple days after they buried their father and husband.  And the family didn't deserve to have its home literally stolen from it for pennies on the dollar.  And the profit never should have gone to the county's own pockets.
This whole affair stinks badly - and the odor you smell isn't emanating from the household garbage or dog feces.
Sure has been a lot of national publicity coming out of North Idaho in recent years.  Seems like the networks probably should simply set up a permanent sound studio operation in town.  They could save a lot of money in sound trucks and travel expenses.
Randy Weaver and the Ruby Ridge affair.  Of course, they were just some "anti-government" types.
Then Richard Butler and the "Dees vs. Butler" trial last year.  Once again, the troublemakers were more "anti-government" types.
Now, JoAnn McGuckin.  Of course, we all have heard good ol' Phil vilify her as being "anti-government."  Because she was vocal about her fears that, some day, the government might come and take away her land and her children.  Imagine that.  How silly of her.
Now, that list doesn't even include a whole bunch of encounters that never made the national news.  And, guess what - they all had "anti-government" types as villains, too.
And, every time I do anything anymore, it is immediately described as being "anti-government," since I have dared to represent several of these anti-government types.  I'm looking for an abortion doctor to represent next, so that I can see abortion characterized as part of an anti-government plot. 
I offered to rewrite the county's invalid comprehensive plan for free a couple of years ago, but was rejected in favor of a company that has now charged nearly $100,000 and still hasn't delivered the goods.  I guess that was anti-government of me, too.
A couple of months ago, I cautioned Bonner County, in a well-researched and supported letter, against embarking upon its publicized jihad against many of the county's poor residents for zoning violations because the Supreme Court had recently held that an invalid comprehensive plan renders zoning invalid.  I was ignored.  I guess that attempt to head off a rash of lawsuits against the county was being anti-government, too.
Know what all these things have in common?  Yep.  Government.  Stand up against anything the government says or wants to do these days and you are immediately dismissed with the pejorative "anti-government" label.  Get the label once and then everything you do thereafter is automatically anti-government.
That's the way it is in North Idaho these days.  I travel a lot and I can report that it just isn't like that in many other places I have visited in this country the past few years.  Not sure what has happened here, but government at all levels hereabouts is literally out of control.
It is high time a lot more of us stood up, talked back to government and showed it for what it really is:  anti-citizen.


"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002

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