[Vision2020] Re: conflict of interest

Darrell Keim keim at moscow.com
Fri Aug 6 11:18:08 PDT 2004

         Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my somewhat sarcastic 
broadsiding of Wayne.  I am aware of the issues you so ably summarized.  I 
also agree they are points of concern.  I do not deny the possibility of 
their being issues.  What caused me to write was exactly the polarization 
you mention below.  I saw a polarized note from Wayne, making many ad 
hominem attacks against Kimmell and those that don't think he is the devil 
incarnate.  The points you raised were not being reasonably 
discussed.  Rather, many people were simply name calling.  I'm all for 
reasoned discussion.  The unreasoned discussion that was going on stirred 
me to write.  I have a few more comments below:

>Message: 2
>Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 08:59:01 -0700
>From: "Melynda Huskey" <mghuskey at msn.com>
>Subject: RE: [Vision2020] re: conflict of interest
>To: vision2020 at moscow.com
>Message-ID: <BAY11-F308lxy4DlYWy000025ad at hotmail.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
>Darrell raises some points that I'm sure others are wondering about, too.
>He writes:
> >1.     I find it disturbing that a man is being raked through the mud
> >simply because he is a member of a church that has a pastor with some odd
> >views . . . Paul is being castigated for being a member of Christ Church
> >and, undeniably, making one bad decision in not removing himself from a
> >Commissioner vote. Does knowing Paul Kimmell attends Christ Church allow us
> >to accurately infer everything else about him?
>One difficulty about this medium--Vision 2020 in particular and email in
>general--is that it invites polarization, and each pole is defined by the
>most extreme or "spirited" position taken. Although I, for one, have grave
>concerns about the possible conflicts of interest, I don't have them because
>of Paul Kimmell's membership in a particular church. I'm looking at
>patterns of behavior:

Again, I agree with your approach.  And applaud you for taking it.  I wish 
everyone did!

>Paul Kimmell is described in church meeting minutes--to which he had access
>and to which he could have asked for revisions--as willing to accept
>oversight by the church's elders on some issues (unspecified).

To this I will repeat an earlier point-How do we know that Wilson 
accurately reflects the conversation in his minutes?

>Paul served as a land agent for the church.
>In his capacity as President for the Chamber, he made staff hiring decisions
>which systematically favored members of his own church.

True.  Is this a problem with Kimmell?  Or, is this a problem with the 
hiring processes of the Chamber, and the board of directors Paul is 
governed by?  He doesn't operate in a vacuum over there...

>Church email was used to promote his election.

Undeniably a wrong thing to do.  Did Paul instigate or condone it?  Did 
Wilson?  Has anyone here ever made a political email from their state owned 
email?  Has anyone here used the internet for personal use while at 
work?  All are equally wrong.

>He did not recuse himself from a vote on the tax exempt status of businesses
>related to his church. At the hearing on that status, inaccurate
>information was presented to justify the request.

Certainly a mistake he made.  I'll bet he's regretting it now!

>Those behaviors would cause me concern no matter what church Paul attended.

I'm glad to hear it, and I agree.  Let me ask the board to search their 
souls and consider this:
Would this issue loom so large if Paul attended First United Methodist Church?
For some of us it might.  But I strongly suspect that for those polarized 
against Christ Church it would not.

>It's quite true that he was found not guilty of a violation of the conflict
>of interest statutes for his vote on the tax exemption. He's absolutely
>innocent of breaking the law in this matter. But for me, at any rate, there
>are ethical questions beyond the legal dimension.

Agreed.  But, does that mean we should allow the kind of personal attacks 
that have been happening?

>Has Paul served Latah
>County well while blending these roles?

Certainly a matter for discussion.  Strikes me that we will know the 
general consensus at the next election.

>On what issues, exactly, might
>Christ Church elders have been given oversight on Paul's decisions or
>positions, and what were the consequences of that oversight?

And, just as important, what does oversight mean?

>   Has Paul
>served the Chamber and Moscow businesses evenhandedly? Was he aware that
>the information presented to the Board of Equalization was inaccurate?
>I'll probably never know the answers to those questions. But they remain
>important questions for me.

As they should.  Reasoned civic discussion is an important part of 
democracy.  Notice I said reasoned.  If only everyone could stick to that!

>I also recognize that it's very hard to ask these questions without being
>perceived as mean or maybe driven by a vendetta.

Actually, I disagree with you here. I don't perceive honest questions as 
being a sign of a vendetta.  Personal attacks, on the other hand...

>  Ours is a small town, where
>we see each other all the time, in all kinds of places. Unlike Seattle,
>say, or Columbus, Ohio, when I say something critical of a governmental
>official, I do so knowing that I'm likely to see him tomorrow in Rosauers or
>McCoy's or the Needle Nook or the Red Door. That makes it just a little
>harder to speak up.

Again, agreed.  And it makes it more important to keep the discourse 
civil.  It also makes it a little harder for elected officials to avoid the 
appearance of a conflict of interest.  Moscow is a tiny town, really.  All 
our business leaders are in the same proverbial bed, and it ain't a king 
sized mattress!  For a local business person to succeed they, almost by 
definition, are going to find themselves in instances that could be 
perceived wrongly.  Sometimes, especially when you know someone, trust in 
their judgement and ability must come into play.

>Constant readers know I've never made any secret of my distaste for
>Kimmell's pastor and his views--just as Doug Wilson has been pretty open
>about his disdain for me and mine.

And, I certainly don't blame you for your views regarding Wilson.  But, 
must the eye of v2020's suspicion also automatically go to all members of 
Christ Church?

>But there is a middle ground possible,
>where serious questions are not necessarily personal attacks, and where
>public officials can be held to high standards without personal animosity on
>either side.

We may not agree on all things regarding Kimmell, but I applaud you on your 
ability to make good, reasonable, logical discussion points.  Thank you for 
allowing me to make a few of my own.
Darrell (Your friendly cheap, old, naive, basketball playing gearhead 
supremacist with a fondness for sheep and potatoes.)

PS-See Wayne?  Reasonable discussion.  A debate without raising 
voices!  That wasn't so hard. 
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