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Bad choices have serious consequences

| September 24, 2021 1:00 AM

Here is the editorial we wish we could have published today:

Todd Banducci, Greg McKenzie and Michael Barnes graduated Wednesday night from their freshman class of working together on the North Idaho College board of trustees.

They did it with distinction.

Banducci, the veteran board member among the three and chair of the five-member board of trustees, sent a loud and encouraging message to local higher education advocates, NIC staff and faculty, and maybe most of all to area students. That message is: What’s best for NIC and the community that supports it trumps political ideologies and personal disputes.

More than words, Banducci, McKenzie and Barnes joined longtime board members Christie Wood and Ken Howard in taking action, extending President Rick MacLennan’s contract and ensuring effective and consistent leadership will continue well into the future.

That decision could not have been easy considering the power struggle and at times personal animosity expressed publicly between the leaders. Firing MacLennan with or without cause or even snipping the end off his contract would have been a vote of no confidence and a slap in the face to staff and faculty, shoving morale at a historically difficult time even deeper into the morass.

But level heads and a higher sense of responsibility prevailed. The college, its supporters and taxpayers avoided a wrongful termination lawsuit that was not only almost a certainty, but might have gone down as one of the most expensive in the history of ICRMP, the risk-management organization covering the college.

They avoided the awkward appointment of an interim president and, later, a permanent replacement who would struggle under the real or perceived perception of gross political favoritism.

And they dodged an accreditation meltdown that could have cost dearly, from federal funding to nightmares for students transferring classes.

Instead, the North Idaho College board of trustees refused to be distracted. They united in the mission to continue a strong tradition of excellence in undergraduate, technical and entrepreneurial education.

They put the organization above themselves.

Sadly, here is the editorial we must publish today:

For anyone wondering what happens when unqualified, politically motivated candidates take over the governing board of a public entity, see the rapid and far-reaching destruction being wrought at North Idaho College.

And realize that more of the same is in store throughout Kootenai County unless wiser choices are made Nov. 2.