Thursday, June 08, 2023

EDITORIAL: Is it time for NIC to start over?

| April 26, 2023 1:00 AM

There’s a bad moon on the rise.

It seems to cast the darkest shadows on nights when the North Idaho College Board of Trustees meets. Nights like tonight. And Monday night.

Whenever the three extremist trustees get together — and even sometimes when they don’t, according to recently disclosed personal emails — new depths of dysfunction are plumbed. The defiant, destructive acts of Greg McKenzie, Mike Waggoner and Todd Banducci only continue to pile up like rotten logs stacked by demented woodsmen.

A bad moon and stinking logs aren’t the only things on the rise. Through their actions, the three trustees lift their middle fingers to the legal system, to representatives of the accrediting agency who are here right now on a crucial site visit, to the students, staff and faculty they’re supposed to be serving, and to the taxpayers they’re supposed to be representing.

And you know what? There might be nothing to stop their pillaging.

A recall election would require massive expense and work toward an outcome that, based on the first defeat of a Coeur d’Alene School District levy in generations and a simmering anti-public education sentiment overall, might fail anyway.

A special session of the Legislature called by the governor? There’s at least nine reasons to doubt that the Legislature has the fortitude to change the way NIC is governed. Not one of the nine legislators from Kootenai County has stepped up to save the college, and the broader body would almost certainly refuse to steamroll their colleagues.

Perhaps, if that bad moon waned and another option were to emerge — a path around the belligerent trustees that limited the damage they could do — the NWCCU could preserve accreditation until next year’s trustee elections, when the seats occupied by McKenzie, Banducci and Waggoner are all up for grabs. But this far into the nightmare journey, it doesn’t seem likely a miracle path to survival will suddenly appear.

There’s growing sentiment that loss of accreditation is now the only way to save NIC in the long run. The thinking goes that only after the building burns to the ground can reconstruction begin on a new structure equipped with the kind of safeguards that would prevent future conflagrations.

But that scenario assumes voters will learn from this painful lesson — the disastrous consequences of selecting politically connected but wholly unqualified candidates — and in light of recent elections, it’s fair to question that assumption.

So where does all that leave us?

Certain that NWCCU will do its job, and do it well.

And determined that no matter what, the community gives NIC employees and students the respect and support that three trustees have steadfastly failed to provide.

Recent Headlines