[Vision2020] LMT 8/25/04 Moscow Chamber Rumors Denied

Dan Carscallen predator75 at moscow.com
Wed Aug 25 10:54:23 PDT 2004

Moscow Chamber Rumors Denied
Executive director Paul Kimmell says organization is not operating at a

By David Johnson
Of the Tribune

Moscow -- Contrary to recent media and Internet reports circulating
around town, the Moscow Chamber of Commerce is not in financial dire
straits.  Nor is Paul Kimmell, the chamber's executive director, a
puppet of local Christ Church.  

So said Kimmell and Chamber President Janice McMillan Tuesday in the
wake of a local newspaper reporting that the chamber is suffering from a
$74,000 deficit in so-called retained earnings.

The principal source of that report, past Chamber President B.J.
Swanson, said she is indeed concerned about the chamber's financial
well-being but didn't intend to be portrayed so negatively.  "It's not
my job to kill the chamber," said Swanson, "but that's the way it

The developments come at a time when Moscow was reported on the local
Vision 2020 Internet bulletin board as a recent addition to the Southern
Poverty Law Center's hatewatch list.  Spokesmen for the center in
Alabama, however, denied the report.

"We're on a lot of lists,"  said Kimmell, "but good ones."

Kimmell, who's also a Latah County commissioner, has been targeted
because of his Christ Church membership and barraged with questions on
Vision 2020 about whether he answers to the church's pastor, Doug

"That's just plain wrong," Kimmel told the Lewiston Morning Tribune.
"I'm not promoting the Christ Church agenda at the Chamber of Commerce."
He said he refuses to enter the Internet fray on Vision 2020 but would
be happy to talk face to face with anyone about his work, his
affiliation with the church, and the chamber's financial status.

"He has to answer to the board," McMillan said about Kimmell's
employment at eht pleasure of the chamber's 16 member board of

Swanson, an executive at the local AmericanWest bank, said she doesn't
doubt Kimmell's sincerity or ability.  But she said he's spread too
thin.  "Paul's a very fine man, and to just trash Paul Kimmell, I
wouldn't think of doing that."

For the record, said Kimmell and McMillan, the chamber remains solvent.
"I can tell you today, we're in the black," said Kimmell.  "Yes, we're
in the black," confirmed McMillan.  The two conceded that some confusion
continues to surround the chamber's finances, but as of Tuesday the
non-profit promotional organization had between $12,000 and $15,000 in
it's checking account and the bills were being paid.

"The chamber is not bankrupt," Swanson agreed.  "It's just that the
financials don't balance."  She said an audit would help matters.
Kimmell and McMillan agreed.

Kimmell has been called "Puppet Kimmell" by some on Vision 2020 after he
was forced, as county commissioner, to recuse himself from decisions on
the tax exempt status of Christ Church.  He's also been questioned for
his recent presentation of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as an example
of leadership during a recent chamber retreat.

Christ Church's Wilson has been the focus of controversy on Vision 2020
for months for his alleged neoconfederate leanings and support of
slavery.  Wilson, who has denied the allegations, has dubbed the
Internet forum "Venom 2020" and withdrawn from participation.

Kimmell defended his use of Lee in his recent presentation, saying it
had nothing to do with the promotion of slavery.  "It was not intended
to be about anything but the leadership skills of a leader," said

McMillan blasted Vision 2020 as something that's gone from a potentially
helpful local forum of ideas to "garbage" spouted by about a dozen
contributors who give a totally wrong impression of what Moscow is all
about.  "Vision 2020 was a great idea when it came out," said McMillan,
"but it has just been taken over by a group of, I don't know how to say
this ... I would call them almost destructive."

Bill London, on of the founders of Vision 2020 as decade ago,
acknowledged that some of the postings can be "less than civil."  But he
defended the unmoderated bulletin board as a valuable source of
information and local discourse.  "Yes, there is a group of people who
share concerns about the growth of Moscow and the tendrils fo Christ
Church in the county commission and the chamber of commerce," said
London.  "My question to Paul Kimmell is how can he serve three

Kimmell and McMillan pointed to recent Vision 2020 posting about Moscow
being named on a hatewatch list as an example of misinformation that
gets spread too far.  The Lewiston Tribune contacted Joe Roy, chief of
the Southern Poverty Law Center's investigation arm, about the report.
He said neither Moscow or Christ Church appear on the list.  "I don't
even have them in the data bank," he said.

Mark Potok, another spokesman for the center, confirmed that neither
Moscow nor Christ Church is listed.  But Potok said he recently wrote an
article in the center's magazine titled "Taliban on the Palouse" about
Christ Church and its pastor.  The story's subtitle read:  "A religious
empire based in Idaho is part of the far-right theological movement
fueling neoconfederate groups."
Johnson may be contacted at deveryone at potlatch.com

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