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MY TURN: Telling it like it is

by CHRISTIE WOOD/Guest opinion
| August 13, 2022 1:00 AM

Last week, I opened my favorite paper to see once again the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee Chairman Brent Regan using a platform to spread his version of events that just doesn’t ring true. He first addressed party politics that were of course divisive. Then he launched into a diatribe about North Idaho College.

I have ignored the nonsense from the KCRCC under the leadership of Regan for many years while watching my friends stand up and address the mistruths. Today, I must join them in rejecting the outright falsehoods. Regan’s version of what occurred with the trustees on the NIC board is quite the fairy tale.

To be clear, the accreditation concerns at NIC are not connected in any way to the quality of programs delivered by faculty and staff. The employees at NIC deserve much praise for their continued dedication to the students and the community.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities found valid concerns with governance, specifically regarding the actions of former board Chair Todd Banducci. The NIC board has been warned to come into compliance with education standards of governance or face sanctions.

I believe in the solid leadership of trustees Wold, Brochet and Goedde and new President Dr. Nick Swayne to work with the other two trustees and change the course for the better. This is in the best interest of our students and of our entire community.

Regan claims the “establishment members” of the NIC board, which I can assume he is referring to former Trustee Ken Howard and myself, began an operation to “overthrow the will of the people.” This statement is not true.

The KCRCC and their Precinct Committeeman, Todd Banducci, have attached themselves to a narrative that in their minds makes them victims. In some regards, they have succeeded with their narrative. Todd and the KCRCC have misrepresented the issues at NIC and convinced their base that Todd Banducci equals “a good conservative” and Christie Wood and Ken Howard equal “stinking liberals." Therefore, the details of Todd’s abuse of women, students, administrators, fellow trustees and faculty and staff on the NIC campus do not matter to them.

Todd also has a history of verbal abuse toward female members of the public who address the board. No need to be concerned about that in their minds: “Just mark the ballot as Regan tells you to, and don’t ask any questions."

The message is — don’t inquire about Todd’s extreme abuse of authority, his failure to follow state law, disregard for established policies and educational standards that protect the accreditation of NIC. Apparently, to them, if you are a “good conservative,” then as a trustee you will shut up and ignore the fact that Banducci was censured by the board for physically assaulting a female employee and ignore the allegations of sexual harassment by other female employees against him. You may notice Todd has never denied these allegations because he KNOWS there is written proof of the incidents.

The truth is Ken Howard and I could care less about Todd’s partisan leanings. It simply does not matter if he is a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, etc. What matters is his ongoing effort to cause irreparable harm to the college with his unprofessional behavior. The financial loss to the college and the taxpayers due to the actions of Banducci and the other KCRCC-supported trustees on the NIC board is staggering. The failure to follow educational standards by these trustees has put the college at risk of losing its accreditation.

The college insurer has dropped coverage due to their own recent payout of the former president’s lawsuit for termination without cause, and the likelihood of more wrongful employment claims arising from Banducci and Greg McKenzie’s leadership. This status is disastrous and potentially costly for our community.

For eight of the years I served on the board I put up with Todd’s meltdowns, boorish behavior and embarrassing inappropriateness. In one professional meeting with our colleagues from across the state, he blathered on that he could kill a person with a simple pen.

The last year I worked with him he crossed the line so many times I knew drastic actions were needed to change course. Who in their right mind believes, as Banducci does, that they can mistreat female employees simply because they are an elected official?

Ken Howard and I appropriately called for him to step down as chairman several times. Faculty and staff issued three separate votes of “no confidence." Never in the history of NIC have the employees issued a vote of no confidence against a trustee. This vote was monumental. Yet the KCRCC stood solidly behind him and still do so to this day.

I have never had a conversation with Brent Regan, knowing it’s futile as he has chosen to ignore Banducci’s behavior. The pattern displayed under Regan’s leadership of that organization is — "as long as you’re one of them you don’t need to comply with any standards of decency." Regan has a lot of fans in his club for sure. I do believe, however, some within the ranks of the KCRCC also question the lack of standards and ethics of the candidates promoted by the Central Committee decision makers.

I am grateful to Republican Sandi Patano and the North Idaho Republicans for offering me another choice from the KCRCC. I have chosen to affiliate with principled Republicans who respect the rule of law and exercise common decency toward others.

Please pay attention to the NIC elections this fall and choose candidates for their sound judgment, good character and desire to serve the community, not for their adherence to the leadership of Regan’s KCRCC.

• • •

Christie Wood is a former North Idaho College trustee and a resident of Coeur d'Alene.

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