Tuesday, January 31, 2023

NIC attorney billed nearly $25K in December

Staff Writer | January 20, 2023 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — North Idaho College attorney Art Macomber billed nearly $25,000 in December 2022 and the interim president’s consultant will receive more than $15,000 for 20 days of work, newly revealed public records show.

The Press obtained Macomber’s December invoice Thursday after submitting a public records request. Much of the invoice was redacted and blacked out, though the amounts billed were intact.

Macomber billed a total of $24,797.50 for work done between Dec. 5 and Dec. 31. He was hired during the Dec. 5 meeting of NIC’s board of trustees at $325 per hour.

Items Macomber billed for include time to review Idaho’s open meeting and public records laws, as well as State Department of Education rules. Macomber also repeatedly billed $32.50 to “receive and review” individual emails or print meeting agendas.

The largest amounts for readable items on Macomber’s invoice are $1,495 for a Dec. 8 special meeting, which included a three-hour executive session, and $1,235 for the Dec. 21 regular meeting.

Two Dec. 31 items, one for $1,202.50 and another for $1,040 are redacted.

The invoice also shows that Macomber had a phone call with the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office on Dec. 13 to discuss allegations of open meeting law violations.

Prosecuting Attorney Stanley Mortensen also called Macomber on Dec. 19 to discuss meeting minutes after Mortensen’s office received a complaint, the invoice shows. Macomber billed $97.50 for the time.

Macomber’s bill is significantly higher than bills from NIC’s previous legal counsel, Lyons O’Dowd, between December 2021 and July 2022. Those invoices were previously produced in response to a public records request and contain few redactions.

Lyons O’Dowd billed NIC at a rate of $200 per hour and most monthly invoices were for total amounts under $10,000. The lowest bill was $4,375 in December 2021.

The highest was $14,460 in June 2022, the same month when trustees hired NIC President Nick Swayne. Many items on the invoice were related to reviewing and revising Swayne’s contract.

The firm also billed for numerous items related to reviewing a real estate sales agreement and college insurance issues.

Invoices from Lyons O’Dowd included no items related to legal research or review.

The Press also obtained Thursday a copy of the contract for Debbie DiThomas, who was recently hired by NIC Interim President Greg South as a consultant.

DiThomas is expected to help develop a plan to address accreditation compliance issues, as well as “board, administration, faculty, staff and student needs and concerns,” as well as other matters.

NIC will pay DiThomas a total fee of $15,387 for the 20 working days between Jan. 9 and Feb. 3. Her contract may be extended.

The college will also reimburse "reasonable" expenses, including hotel bills, rental car fees and meals and pay for a round-trip flight home.

To read the full invoices and contract, visit cdapress.com.

Art Macomber’s December 2022 invoice

Lyons O’Dowd invoices

Debbie DiThomas contract

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