Tuesday, May 28, 2024

NIC going nowhere fast — on purpose

| April 8, 2022 1:00 AM

Well, that didn’t take long.

Whatever hope North Idaho College supporters briefly held that college leaders would chart a constructive new path to getting business done came crashing down Wednesday night.

Smart money would have wagered heavily that Trustee Chair Todd Banducci and his accomplice, Trustee Greg McKenzie, would attempt to fill the tie-breaking fifth seat on the board with, in order of importance, these qualifications among the pool of applicants:

1) Ideological priorities

2) Political beliefs

3) Connections to others who think/act similarly

4) Educational considerations

And smart money would have won.

Assuming that all the applicants were in the running for the right reasons, McKenzie’s choice to join the board very well could have been the very least qualified person to serve. The candidate openly (points for honesty) knew nothing about NIC and, frankly, did not make a strong argument that he possesses any of the skills or experience needed to lead an institution of higher learning.

Banducci of course supported McKenzie’s candidate. Fortunately, veteran trustees Ken Howard and Christie Wood did not, so the 2-2 vote killed that idea.

What matters to Banducci, who has been criticized by the accrediting organization for, among other things, his well-documented lack of transparency? Here’s a clue: He asked several candidates if they would commit to not “leaking” information. This from a public official who routinely shuts out dissenting voices and rarely answers questions from media or others.

And so it went Wednesday night. Nowhere.

Now a new level of alarm is emerging. For months, Banducci has provided lots of ammunition to those who question his ability to lead at all. But there could be something more substantive in play here, a theory that has been whispered for some time but gains credibility with every passing day.

The theory is that Banducci and McKenzie are stalling, that this standoff between two starkly different camps is being perpetuated with a big goal in mind: Nov. 8, Election Day.

Banducci and McKenzie are not up for election this year, but Wood and Howard are. Because of the intense effort the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee and its flock put into taking majority control of the NIC board in autumn 2020, it’s easy to imagine their eye on the bigger prize this time around — a unanimously aligned body of trustees who have neither the aptitude nor the intent to carry out NIC’s educational mission.

Hard as it is to believe, the darkest days might be ahead of us, not behind.