The City's Pulse Newsletter
More Arrogance from NIC

Dear Readers,
My newsletter from last Friday was about NIC's abrupt firing of Dr. Robert Ketchum, the respected director of NIC's Work Force Training Center in Post Falls.  That same evening, the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet, and Dr. Ketchum attended, as did  NIC's President, Priscilla Bell.  (I bet they weren't sitting at the same table!)

Several of my newsletter readers were at the Chamber banquet and emailed me with their outrage at what happened.  Here's s sampling of their candor:

"I was shocked and dismayed this evening when Priscilla Bell pledged $3000 of our money to sponsor a railing for the new Post Falls Chamber Building.  It was done at the annual awards banquet.  I questioned her, asking if it was her personal money, and she said no it was NIC's money."

"In this economy with education cuts, how does she have the audacity to spend public money for such a thing?  And with Mr. Robert Ketchum in the room, who she just fired for not fitting into her agenda/plans.  I find this to be incredibly irresponsible and am absolutely shocked! "

"I cannot believe she would spend education money in this way right now.  Even our governor is saying he can't support things like public parks because there is not the money, and here Priscilla is giving away money that could go to scholarships or other STUDENT programs."

(Please remember that the Chamber of Commerce is a PRIVATE business group, not supported by, or accountable to, the public.)

The next morning, someone emailed the NIC Board of Trustees asking them to rescind the $3000 pledge by President Bell.  Here's NIC's official response:

From: Board of Trustees <BoardofTrustees@NIC.EDU>
Date: January 15, 2010 2:08:08 PM PST
Subject: RE: $3000 spent by Priscilla Bell

The NIC Board of Trustees supports the college’s donation to the Post Falls Chamber of Commerce for their new building.  NIC has a long history of partnering in programs and organizations throughout the communities we serve.  This is part of our marketing and community outreach activities.  To that end, the college uses funds for memberships and participation in organizations such as the Post Falls Chamber and Jobs Plus. These funds are available as the college budget includes revenue from sources other than that generated by state or county taxes.

North Idaho College Board of Trustees

Notice, if you will, that this official response was sent at 2:00 pm the next afternoon. How did the whole Board of Trustees come to this agreement so quickly?

NIC may think that $3000 is not much money.  But Priscilla Bell's casual use of public monies when NIC is raising costs on students and the State is putting many employees on furloughs and cutting budgets to the bone, is inappropriate.  Her donation of public dollars to this private business group gives the impression of indifference to the plight of taxpayers struggling in this economy.  Remember, NIC already bumped their portion of our taxes up over 100% by taking foregone taxes to pay the inflated price tag on the mill site property near the sewage plant.

If Priscilla wanted to be magnanimous with her own money, that would be fine.  After all, she makes $179,250, including a new car,  full auto & health insurance  and $1,000 per month for housing. 

So, Readers, that's the scoop, make of it what you will.  But notice the email address for the NIC Board of Trustees on their response shown above, in case you would like to let them know what you think.

Have a good week!  --Mary


Mary Souza is a 22 year resident of CdA, local small business owner and former P&Z Commissioner.   Her opinions are her own.  For a free archive of past columns visit  Comments can be sent to  Please visit the local issues web site for more discussion.

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