[Vision2020] Vera White's column on Kimmell

Mark Solomon msolomon at moscow.com
Fri Aug 20 16:04:45 PDT 2004

INK: Chamber boss Kimmell ready to lead with Lee
Vera White
The INKster has wanted to believe during the past year or so that 
Latah County Commissioner/ Moscow Chamber of Commerce Executive 
Director/Christ Church member Paul Kimmell refused to let his 
personal beliefs figure into business either at the courthouse or the 
chamber office.

But she was speechless when she received a call last week from an 
irate chamber member expressing dismay with Kimmell's choice of 
leadership materials used at the Aug. 5 annual board retreat in 
Gritman Medical Center's conference room. For his 1:30 p.m. 
leadership power point presentation, Kimmell chose to use Confederate 
General Robert E. Lee as the world's greatest example of a leader 
among men.

The INKster was forwarded a copy of the 17-page "Robert E. Lee on 
Leadership." In addition to numerous historic photos, the back page 
proudly displayed the Confederate flag. Although it came as no 
surprise since Christ Church leaders seemingly worship Lee along with 
God, the INKster didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

"Some chamber members were appalled when they found out about this 
retreat," noted one of the INKster's sources. "But under a new 
ruling, only board members were invited."

"Understanding and Applying the Leadership Principles of General 
Robert E. Lee" describes Lee as a leader for all ages who "remade a 
rag-tag bunch of men into one of the most impressive fighting forces 
history has ever known." Further, "as a business man, he took a 
debt-ridden Virginia plantation and streamlined its operations; and 
as a teacher who turned a backwater college into a prestigious 

Of course the INKster wasn't there, but she wonders if Lee might have 
had an edge with local government officials who were able to reduce 
the taxes on the plantation. No doubt there was cheap labor 
available. And she's curious as to whether Kimmell used the 
University of Idaho or New St. Andrews College as an example for the 
"backwater college."

Under the section marked "Leadership By Example," Kimmell notes that 
"part of Lee's strength was his supreme confidence, tied to both his 
religious convictions and that he had unsparingly done his duty to 
achieve the goals set before him."

Be that as it may, the INKster wonders how the Robert E. Lee Method 
of Leadership would play out with other chambers in the region. Throw 
in the Confederate flag and she imagines Moscow will rightfully find 
itself a laughingstock.

Interestingly, one of the items on the retreat agenda was a 
roundtable discussion on "Marketing Moscow to Seniors." The INKster 
imagines she wouldn't be the only old person offended by a group of 
the town's leading business people paying homage to the Confederacy.
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