Saturday, May 25, 2024

EDITORIAL: Two big steps to save NIC

| January 11, 2023 1:00 AM

Nobody can guess why Todd Banducci, Greg McKenzie and new North Idaho College Trustee Mike Waggoner are trying to burn down the joint. All anybody knows is that they most certainly are.

The way to kill the college now appears to be to bankrupt it via aggravated fiduciary failure. It's ironic that what these three and their unqualified new attorney, Art Macomber, are doing is the antithesis to fiscal conservatism. And these guys allege with straight faces that they’re as conservative as Uncle Joe or AOC is liberal.

So what’s to be done?

Local attorney Mike Gridley and others are aiming for the courts to hold Waggoner, McKenzie and Banducci personally liable for paying two presidents at the same time. Let’s see what happens to the smug looks on their faces if they have to personally foot the bill for their recently appointed presidential puppet Greg South’s guaranteed pay, benefits and perks, amounting to more than $400,000 over the 18-month contract.

In a stroke of extreme justice, it would also be nice to see the courts hit the three trustees personally with all costs related to legitimate President Nick Swayne’s lawsuit over being suspended with pay while South oversees college operations.

Better still? Include Macomber’s bills in the personal liability package. McKenzie, Banducci and Waggoner have given Macomber a blank check to “investigate” Swayne’s hiring and contract to his suspicious heart’s content — while the cash register rings to the tune of $325 an hour.

And why not? The three trustees are throwing vast sums of money into the wind, further imperiling NIC’s future, because the money for South, Macomber, drastically higher insurance costs and pending athletics spending isn’t coming out of their pockets. Students, state and local taxpayers are stuck with the bloated bill.

Meantime, the jury-rigged administration’s Jan. 4 response to the accrediting body’s warning amounted to 12 pages of whitewash and wishful thinking, with a pathetic measure of whining tossed in for having to work over the holidays to address the warning.

If anything, the response, with the three trustees’ fingerprints all over it, will only raise the level of concern among leaders of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Unfortunately, legal actions rarely are resolved rapidly. At this rate, the three trustees could spend NIC into bankruptcy before justice runs its course. So rather than wait for the courts to impose their will or the NWCCU to bring the hammer down, here’s another option.

Run a recall campaign against recently elected Waggoner so the Idaho State Board of Education could appoint a qualified, conscientious trustee. That person, with respected trustees Brad Corkill and Tarie Zimmerman, would quickly get NIC back to delivering quality education rather than painful, dangerous and expensive daily drama.