Monday, May 20, 2024

EDITORIAL: Clearing up a stream of NIC sludge

| March 3, 2023 1:00 AM

The controversial waters surrounding North Idaho College are murky, contaminated not by mining waste but by unclear motives and political b.s.

So let’s do a little clarifying, shall we?

Conjecture runs high that NIC trustees Todd Banducci, Greg McKenzie and Mike Waggoner are hellbent on destroying the college because they want the property for zillion dollar condos or a private religious school.

A strong argument could be made that the three trustees comprising the board majority don’t know what they’re doing, let alone what they want long term. But this much we do know: The property cannot be used for condos or a private religious school.

From a Dec. 24, 2022, Press front-page article by Kaye Thornbrugh:

Much of NIC's main campus sits on a tract of land donated to Kootenai County by the Winton Lumber Company for the purpose of developing a public park, public hospital or public educational institution.

The county conveyed the land to the North Idaho Junior College District in August 1941. The property is deed restricted and must be used for public education or a hospital. It cannot be used for commercial purposes.

So what’s the board majority’s end game?

An op-ed columnist opined that NIC is an incubator for “Marxist, socialist and even communist ideologies.” He asserted that losing accreditation is not at all what McKenzie, Banducci and Waggoner want — that the whole accreditation plot was hatched by liberals fearful that their haven of intellectual socialism is being threatened by the legally elected trio.

Fine. Prove it.

Produce clear and convincing evidence that students, staff or faculty are routinely punished for harboring conservative viewpoints. If that were even remotely true, the list of can’t-miss lawsuits against NIC would be longer than Pinocchio’s snout.

The columnist stated that the three main responsibilities of NIC trustees are approving the budget, setting policy and hiring the president. What he left out was the No. 1 responsibility, which is true of any trustee: Ensuring the entity remains financially viable.

In that regard, the trio in charge will go down as by far the most reckless spenders in the history of NIC, but the op-ed columnist prefers not to mention that because he and his alleged fiscally conservative political group endorsed all three.

One more point of clarification for now.

While the belligerent and destructive acts of Banducci, McKenzie and Waggoner get most of the attention, the remaining two trustees are doing their best to save this gem on the lake.

Tarie Zimmerman and Brad Corkill deserve the public’s support and appreciation. It's just a pity that acting in NIC’s best interests is now a minority position.