Saturday, February 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Ban books? Censor bad trustees instead

| January 28, 2024 1:00 AM

See if this sounds familiar.

Trustees in the majority do their dirty best to get rid of the one administrator they can hire or fire but can't manipulate. 

After months of unmitigated chicanery and direct assaults on that person’s career — to say nothing of wasted money spent on all manner of subversion — the board majority finally surrenders. Publicly, anyway.

If you’re thinking of North Idaho College, you’re right. But a similar insidious assault is mirroring NIC’s mess, this time at the Community Library Network. 

Where NIC Trustees Greg McKenzie, Todd Banducci and Mike Waggoner failed to jettison President Nick Swayne, CLN Trustees Tim Plass, Tom Hanley and Rachelle Ottosen are doing their utmost to vanquish Library Director Alexa Eccles. 

Where NIC’s board majority attempted a bald-faced coup, putting their puppet president in place while shoving Dr. Swayne into an administrative closet, CLN’s troubling trio is trying a more subtle strategy: to make work so unbearable for Eccles that she quits — and hopefully, takes her legion of alleged child-porn peddlers with her.

Skeptical? In the few short months that Plass, Hanley and Ottosen have ruled, Eccles has been buried under the weight of unnecessary, interminably long meetings. The already lengthy trail of make-work, distinctly marked by antagonistic and disrespectful behavior toward Eccles and her staff every step of the way, has led to the actual point of trustees doing what Eccles and other library professionals were trained and hired to do. 

For reasons that aren’t completely clear but smell suspiciously like a sewage barge in a landfill swamp, Ottosen, Hanley and Plass have ordered Eccles and staff to create monthly reports detailing every network acquisition. Never mind that that information already exists and is available to anyone with a computer and time on their hands; the three trustees want to burden the director with time-consuming clerical work that she’ll have to defend in already too-long meetings.

Why? Well, Plass admitted that someone complained about recently acquired Halloween books which Plass said “didn’t look very good to me.” He dropped the O bomb: “Occult.” 

Apparently, if you can’t scare patrons enough with panicked shrieks of porn in the kiddie section, maybe witchcraft and devil worship will move the needle.

By all rational accounts, Eccles is managing the library network well, which makes her a threat to overwrought overseers who want to do her job because they know best. They always know best; just ask them.

The community at large must stand behind Eccles and her dedicated team. They deserve medals, not the abuse and deranged decision-making that have quickly become hallmarks of the CLN board majority.