Thursday, June 08, 2023

EDITORIAL: A ray of light in NIC darkness

| April 28, 2023 1:00 AM

One of the first things a good lawyer will tell a client is to never put anything in writing that they might someday regret.

By that nugget of wisdom alone, Art Macomber is neither a good lawyer nor a good client.

Macomber wrote 173 pages of legal nonsense in a “report” to North Idaho College board members that Trustee Brad Corkill accurately deemed an “unhinged analysis.”

No matter how much that screed cost the college — well into the thousands of dollars, based on Macomber’s billings so far — it might ultimately cost Macomber more. His $325 an hour faucet will be turned off soon, as trustees voted 3-2 Wednesday night to move on from Macomber. They hired Boise attorney Robert Faucher over the objections of Trustees Todd Banducci and Mike Waggoner.

Macomber did nothing in his brief tenure to distinguish himself as a lawyer who would competently advise trustees for NIC’s greatest benefit. His 173-page self-indictment was the nail in the coffin, if not the coffin itself.

What Macomber created was both a master thesis on conspiracy theory and an instruction manual on how to collect pieces of accurate data and arrive at stunningly inaccurate conclusions.

It passed neither legal muster nor the common sense sniff test. Macomber picked up crumbs and called it a cake, when in fact the crumbs were gull droppings from City Beach.

But his departure offers reason for hope — measured, cautious hope, but hope nonetheless — on two fronts.

One, any chance of NIC accreditation surviving was absolutely nil with bad legal advice guiding trustees. Short of somehow talking longtime college counsel Marc Lyons into returning, hiring a respected if somewhat remote lawyer was the next best option. And on paper, at least, Faucher brings far more to the table than Macomber ever did.

The other and perhaps even greater spark of optimism comes from an unlikely source: Trustee Chair Greg McKenzie.

McKenzie has earned every rotten tomato heaved his way thus far, but he showed courage and wisdom Wednesday night by casting the tie-breaking vote to replace Macomber with Faucher. McKenzie’s decision is all the more telling because Dr. Swayne, whom Macomber and the board majority have worked feverishly to vanquish, recommended Faucher.

“It’s hard to find a lawyer at the recommendation of an individual who is also suing you,” McKenzie said, referring to Swayne’s lawsuit seeking permanent reinstatement to his position. “But I’m going to extend trust that Dr. Swayne is doing the best for the college.”

Standing up to Banducci, the former chair and unabashed bully, is a big, bold step for McKenzie. It’s proof that he can not just think for himself, but can lead others.

If NIC has a chance in hell to ward off the loss of accreditation that appeared 100% certain just a couple days ago, it will take consistent, constructive leadership like Greg McKenzie displayed Wednesday night.

And at this point, even a 1% chance of college survival is a monumental improvement.

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