Sunday, November 27, 2022

MY TURN: Macomber column deceptive

by MIC ARMON/Guest opinion
| November 4, 2022 1:00 AM

The recent My Turn by Art Macomber and the reprint of his column as a full-page paid advertisement by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee is disturbing on numerous levels. Macomber states he reviewed the accreditation documents surrounding the crisis at North Idaho College, but then he somehow announces there is no cause for alarm. His refusal to acknowledge the factual realities found within public records available on NIC’s website is truly misleading.

He fails to address the recommendations by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, the entity that grants NIC’s accreditation. He also avoids the elephant in the room; two trustees, Todd Banducci and Greg McKenzie, avoided their fiduciary responsibility to the college and consistently tried to block and delay NIC from taking recommended steps to resolve NIC’s problems, especially when hiring a new permanent president.

Mr. Macomber claims to have poured over documents, yet apparently missed the numerous times Banducci and McKenzie were directly and indirectly cited adversely in the Peer Panel Review Report. Both trustees repeatedly engaged in behavior identified as problematic for NIC’s accreditation. All counterclaims by the two were deemed to be unfounded by NWCCU. Banducci and McKenzie even sought an emergency restraining order behind closed doors. Their lawsuit failed.

Mr. Macomber’s column is simply deceptive. Here are some facts:

1) Fourteen accreditation concerns were cited by NWCCU, all stemming from Banducci’s chairmanship of the board, prior to the appointments of trustees Broschet, Goedde and Wold.

2) Trustees Banducci and McKenzie consistently and repeatedly voted ‘no’ to obstruct and delay board action.

3) Public entities like NIC have restrictions on how they can acquire property. Community colleges can’t pay any more than certified appraised values. In our local market, particularly the Fort Grounds area, many sellers have sold above appraised values. NIC secured professional appraisals for both properties and the process was properly followed to pay no more than appraised fair market value.

4) Trustees Banducci and McKenzie refused to agree to executive sessions in order to review and discuss these property acquisitions. Had Banducci and McKenzie agreed to allow executive sessions, details (including review of appraisals) of the two property transactions cited by Mr. Macomber would have been fully reviewed and discussed prior to the vote at the regular board meeting.

5) Mr. Macomber fails to mention the serious breaches of fiduciary duty, or the assault that prompted Banducci’s public censure. These actions resulted in NIC’s insurance being canceled and have negatively impacted the ability to obtain new insurance at a reasonable cost for taxpayers. Premiums increased +$1M for less coverage due to Banducci’s reckless behavior, not to mention expensive settlements.

6) Simply put, in the last year Banducci and McKenzie’s misguided board actions have cost the college more than a million dollars in direct losses.

As a former board member, I know the college and its trustees have supported the acquisition of property near the college so that future growth can be realized.

Mr. Macomber wants voters to believe that because he is an attorney, we should believe him. But why would Macomber want to divert attention away from NWCCU’s Peer Panel Review report by proclaiming ‘there’s nothing to see here?’ Everyone knows accreditation is at risk because of past board actions.

Does Macomber want to be the next attorney for the college if his team gets elected? Or could it be that Macomber currently serves as a precinct committeeman along with McKenzie and Banducci? Why didn’t he disclose that they are all members of KCRCC?

Macomber and his club are so anxious to control the NIC board that they endorsed three newcomers to town who barely had time to unpack their bags before registering to vote and announcing their candidacy to run for NIC trustee. These same people along with the KCRCC covered up former trustee and KCRCC member Michael Barnes’ move to South Dakota. It wasn’t until a lawsuit was threatened regarding Barnes’ legal residence that he resigned from the board.

It’s clear, Mr. Macomber’s politics come before principles. His take on NIC’s legal scenarios are misguided at best. If just one of his endorsed candidates wins Tuesday, they would hire him as legal counsel and restore Todd Banducci as chair.

This is just more disinformation brought to you by the local Kootenai County Central Committee, who opted to NOT endorse statewide Republicans, even while self-proclaiming they are the ‘official’ Republican party.

Meanwhile, there are three conservative Republicans, Broschet, Corkill and Zimmerman, who know the heart of this community. They are running with the best interests of the college, the students and taxpayers in mind. Our community college’s future depends on your vote this Tuesday.

Mic Armon is a former North Idaho College trustee. He is a resident of Coeur d'Alene.

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